Healthy kids: 3 ways to teach your child about dental hygiene

Teaching children to brush their teeth can be a challenge for some parents. As parents, caregivers, and educators, dental hygiene should be part of the education process as well as promoting eating well and exercise. How to properly take care of young teeth can be learned as early as 3 years of age. But it does not have to be a dreadful activity.

Make it fun with games, fun videos, crafts, songs, and, of course, great books to read. Discuss with your child beforehand about the topics of good dental care, brushing, and the reasons to take care of your teeth.

Although those baby teeth may fall at around 6 years of age, children should still take good care of their teeth and start to learn about proper dental hygiene. Even the American Dental Association promotes good dental health by designating February the month to raise awareness.

Parents and educators can educate children about National Children’s Dental Health and how to take care of their teeth with these simple ideas:

1. Start with simple terms:

Designating one day of the week to explain and show how brushing your teeth can be a fun way to take care of them is a great initiative. Parents can make it fun by shopping together for a toothbrush and toothpaste. With so many different characters and colors, there is one that is appealing.

Besides, the ADA has the seal of approval of more than 300 products. Look for this seal when selecting proper dental tools, which also includes mouthwash and chewing gum. Flossing and mouthwash for younger children should be considered with care with your dental professional.

Demonstrate how to put a small pea size amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush. And follow by actually brushing your teeth. Show the proper technique of brushing your back teeth and gums in circular, gentle motion. Then, we spit or use a cup to rinse our teeth.

The ADA recommends toothbrushes should be replaced every 3 months. Many packages now have toothbrushes with date indicators so you can keep track to when to change brushes.

Girl brushing her teeth 2. Eat a balance diet: 

Cooking good healthy meals together not only promotes bonding between family members but also provides a great opportunity to discuss healthy choices. By eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and drinking water, this type of eating habit establishes good nutrition and healthy teeth.

Sometimes it is okay to have a cookie, birthday cake, or other treats, but these types of refined sugars should be kept at a minimum. The ADA even recommends brushing immediately after eating sugar rich foods. Although at times it may be impossible to brush immediately, it is best to limit its consumption to prevent tooth decay.

Cavities can be formed when bacteria in your mouth interacts with sugars from food, leaving behind acid that can cause cavities and eventually tooth decay. Drinking water can minimize the amount of sugars in the mouth but it does not eliminate the bacteria. But water should be a part of any healthy diet. Brushing is still the best solution.

3. Visit the family dentist:

Visits with the dentist should be scheduled regularly. It is always best to explain the reasons to visit a dentist: to clean teeth, make sure there are no cavities, teach about flossing and proper care, and good overall dental hygiene.

There are plenty of literature and books for children to explain the many different dental professions. A dental hygienist is the person that cleans the teeth. The dentist ensures that cavities or other dental issues are addressed. Orthodontics and dental specialists study teeth reconstructing like teeth braces or mouth guards.

Dental hygiene is an important part of any child’s education. But it does not have to be a boring and tedious experience. The ADA and other organizations provide plenty of information to help families and children to better care for their teeth. The ADA Español also has some wonderful literature, videos, and resources in Spanish.

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Five tips to keep kids healthy all year long

Have you made your New Years resolution? Maybe you are trying to put together a to-do list for the upcoming year. But have you considered some ways to improve your children’s health this year?

Some of these tips are so easy to adjust to that it can change a family’s lifestyle. Here are some healthful tips to have a great kid in your life.

1. No Smoking

Let this year be the year that you quit smoking for your health and the health of your children. Some habits may be hard to break but when it comes to your health and those surrounding you, an effort can be made. Studies have shown that second hand smoke is more hazardous than not wearing a seat belt. Don’t be another statistic.

Nicotine from tobacco smoking goes to the bloodstream and travels to the brain in matters of seconds. After many uses of substance, the body is addictive to this type of chemical stimulation. However, it also causes damages to the lungs, nervous system, heart, muscles, intestines, and circulatory system.

Cigarette smoking carries many toxic chemicals that are poisonous to small children and others around it. To find out more information about how to prevent second hand smoking, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, available in English and Spanish.

No smoking sign with ash tray 2. Eat a Balance Diet

Consuming foods rich in vitamins and minerals is essential for a healthy body. Fruits and vegetables carry many vitamins such as vitamin C, A and minerals such as calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, and sodium. They also are a great source of fiber. All these components are essential for proper growth and health of bones, skin, brain, and circulatory system, to name a few.

To promote healthy eating habits, add a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day. Try to eat and encourage your children to eat a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables. Not only will this expand the children palate but it would also increase their potential to try new foods. Eating well is a habit. A habit learned from parents or caregivers. So go ahead and eat that apple, kiwi, mango, or pineapple.

Of course, children are not always going to like a particular food but be consistent and eventually they might try it. Also, be aware of any food allergies that may occur. To learn more about how to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in your diet and your children, visit Fruits and Veggies More Matters at the Better Health Foundation.

3. Drink water

Water is an important component for all living creatures. It is necessary for proper cell functioning in bodies. It is present in almost all of the biochemical reactions in metabolic pathways. The body is composed of approximately 70% water. We need to replenish the water in our bodies more frequently due to perspiration and bodily functions.

It is a carrier of essential nutrients in your body and helps regulate body temperature. Water consumption can come from foods such as fruits and vegetables, and plain water. Of course, you should always have safe clean tap water to cook and drink.

Courtesy of Fotolia 4. Exercise

Keep active and mobile is an integral part of being healthy for you and others. But you do not have to join a gym or club to keep motivated to be healthy. Other healthy activities are walking the dog, riding a bike, flying a kite, swimming, skating, playing tennis, playing Frisbee, or just plain walking.

Exercise helps with blood circulation in your body. Hence, it helps delivers essential nutrients to your brain, heart, muscles, and other organs in your body. Also, it helps deliver oxygen to your lungs.

Oxygen is a key component for all living creatures on Earth. It helps you breathe and maintain a healthy body. Second hand smoking and environmental pollution can deplete it.

5. Communicate

With such a fast pace world and the Internet, do you know if your children are safe online. Talk to you children about the dangers that sometimes lurk online.

Who are they talking on social media networks? Who are they talking at school or after-school? Some tactics to talk to your kids are taking walks together, playing a sport together, or just putting a puzzle together. Make this a habit.

If they know that getting together for family game or pizza night, they will know that is the time to talk about their daily lives. To improve communication lines between you and your children, visit the American Psychology Association for some great tips.

Whether you need to quit smoking or improve your eating habits, I hope that you can also insist your children to keep a healthy lifestyle. And, remember that children will learn from example.

What are your New Years resolutions?