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Healthy Teeth Make Happy Smiles

Yes, your child’s baby teeth will fall out, but that doesn’t mean they’re less important. These little chompers help kids chew food, speak clearly, and hold space so permanent teeth can grow in straight.

Unfortunately, tooth decay is one of the most common childhood health problems for kids in the United States. Tooth decay is not only painful, it can also lead to other problems, such as ear and sinus infections, difficulty speaking, and a lack of concentration. Kids with dental problems are also more likely to miss school and fall behind in class.

The good news is that you can help prevent cavities by encouraging your child to develop good dental habits.  Here are some suggessions:

1. Take Family Time Outdoors

Although family movie night is a fun and enjoyable way to spend time together, getting in the habit of taking family time outdoors decreases the risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke, per the federal Let’s Move! initiative. Adults actually need 30 minutes of exercise a day, whereas kids should receive 60 minutes of time to stay active. You can model exercise and physical activity for your kids by finding a fun activity everyone can enjoy. Whether it’s a family hike or a backyard game of baseball, you’ll be modeling a healthy lifestyle that has a lasting effect on their oral health.

2. Keep a Stash of Healthy Snacks for Long Days of Driving

Most parents know to bring extra snacks for their kids on days when they’re out for longer periods. But instead of choosing a candy bar for yourself, pack a personal snack that’s as healthy as your kids’ lunches. It’s important for your kids to see you reach for something healthy during the afternoon slump time or on a long day of errands and driving. Keep a stash of nuts and fruit with you in your car or on the go; natural sugars and protein will also sustain you over a longer period so you can stay focused when your youngest gives you a hard time.

3. Make the Switch From Coffee to Green Tea

It might be hard to get in the habit of drinking green tea over coffee, but the benefits are great. Starting your day with caffeine can set you up for a caffeine crash, and you’re more likely to turn to sugar for that much-needed boost when it hits – increasing your risk of tooth decay. Choosing green tea instead can give you just enough caffeine without staining your teeth like coffee, one of the top tooth-staining offenders. Green tea can also decrease the risk of dental decay offering you improved dental health benefits, according to Care2. Modeling this habit for your kids shows that you care about your smile just as much as your dentist does.

4. Maintain Great Oral Care on Vacation

It’s OK to enjoy a more relaxed schedule on vacation, but that doesn’t mean your oral care should take a back seat. Vacation time with your kids is an opportunity to demonstrate a continued routine of healthy habits, like daily flossing the correct way and brushing at least twice a day for two minutes and rinsing after a big dinner. Paying attention to your oral care on vacation teaches your kids that some routines can be maintained without giving up a good time.

5. Keep Regular Dental Visits

One of the most enduring habits you can model for your kids is to maintain great oral care with regular visits to your dentist. If you can, line your appointment up with those of your children. Making your dental care a priority shows them that your own oral care is important and a priority.

Making and keeping habits takes time, and that time can vary for each person. Committing to these 5 healthy habits and calling attention to them when you’re with your kids will help light the way to great oral care into adulthood.

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