How to Get Kids Hooked on Oral Health

From how to encourage brushing to fun products to use and foods to eat, and ones to avoid

From the LifeMinute.TV Team

March 22, 2023

The International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry recently published a study that reveals young children are 74% more likely to comply with positive oral health behaviors, like brushing, when those actions are modeled by a parent. Dr. Harold Katz, DDS, Founder and current Brand Ambassador of TheraBreath, came by to talk with us about practical advice, tips, and tricks to help parents get a winning oral care game in the house, from the link between oral health and overall health to which products are safe and effective for young teeth to which foods to encourage and some surprising ones to avoid.

They say you are what you eat—a fact most evident in your mouth. That's because many foods and beverages can cause plaque buildup, seriously affecting your teeth and overall health. Dental plaque hardens and turns to tartar. Tartar above the gums can lead to gingivitis, an early form of gum disease. Many studies show a strong link between bleeding gums and strokes, and heart disease, which is why it’s even more important to help kids establish good oral health habits early. Today, we are speaking with the dentist and bad-breath expert, Dr. Harold Katz. He has tips for parents hoping to do just that. Welcome.

Prevention of cavities and gum disease starts when we are young. Teaching your children the importance of oral hygiene is valuable for overall optimum health. How do you do that? First, several foods should be avoided or kept to a minimum. The top five include sour candies or gummies, carbonated drinks, excessive citrus fruits and juices, starchy potato chips, and dried fruits such as raisins. The last one may come as a surprise to some parents. Although dried fruits are healthier than traditional sweets, many are sticky and cling to teeth leaving behind sugar. If you incorporate these in your child's diet, have them rinse, brush, and floss after. 

When it comes to tooth-friendly food, consider crunchy fruits and vegetables or those high in fiber, which help to keep your teeth and gums clean. They also get saliva flowing. This includes raspberries, strawberries, apples, and bananas. About 20 minutes after you eat something with sugars or starches, your saliva begins reducing the effects of the acids and enzymes attacking your teeth. Saliva contains traces of calcium and phosphate. It also restores minerals to areas of teeth that have lost them from the bacterial acids. Try to sidestep acidic citrus juices and encourage kids to drink more water which dilutes the damaging effects of sugar. Cheese, milk, and other dairy products are also great saliva makers and help to rebuild tooth enamel. 

As for products for kids, consider adding a fluoride mouthwash into your child's routine – such as the NEW TheraBreath Kids mouthwash that helps fight cavities and prevent tooth decay. It doesn’t contain unnecessary dyes or artificial flavors. It also comes in a smaller bottle that is easier for small hands to maneuver. Be mindful that children should be supervised until they are old enough to remember not to swallow the rinse. The American Dental Association recommends that children can start using mouthwash at age six. 

When picking out a toothbrush, only use a soft-bristled one. Vigorous brushing with anything other than a soft nylon bristle can destroy tooth enamel and gum tissue. When it comes to power toothbrushes, find one with a rotary head, such as Kids Spinbrush. It mimics the instruments that dental hygienists use when they clean your teeth.

Kids' toothpaste should also contain fluoride. Look for other ingredients, such as xylitol and baking soda. A good choice, Orajel Kids Toothpaste, which helps fight against cavities and gum disease. It includes naturally sourced ingredients, and pediatricians recommend it. Opt for the fluoride-free version for kids under six. 

And finally, encourage kids to floss and take their time doing it. Consider a tool like the Waterpik Water Flosser for Kids. Its simple design is easy for kids to navigate and perfect for those with braces.

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