Five Ways to Improve Your Family’s Dental Health

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This post was written in collaboration with Waterloo Dentistry and Project Smile. Project Smile is an event to raise awareness for underserved communities unable to access dental care in the Austin, TX area.

Your family’s oral health (especially your young children’s) can be difficult to care for at times. However, following these simple tips will help you to not only prevent potential future oral and dental health problems but to also promote healthy habits for your family’s future. 

Stop Thumbsucking Early 

While thumbsucking might seem harmless and even cute at times, it can have long-lasting developmental effects. Dental malocclusion or tooth misalignment is the most common issue caused by thumbsucking. Tooth misalignment can lead to a multitude of issues, including bite misalignments and even speech impediments.

Children can be cruel to each other, unfortunately, and speech impediments or tooth misalignments may even lead to social issues.

The key to preventing these issues is to stop thumbsucking early. For babies and toddlers, use a pacifier. A pacifier helps to protect the development of your child’s teeth and is easier to stop as a habit than thumbsucking. For older children, it may not be as easy. Thumbsucking is often a comforting act for your child, so try using encouragement and positive reinforcement to help them stop. 

Prevent Developmental Problems With At-Home Checkups 

As your child grows and their permanent teeth develop, there are many opportunities for dental health problems to arise. From gum infection to permanent teeth growing out of alignment, many problems can be curbed with the help of a simple checkup.

One of the most important dental checkups your child can have is the one that you give them. Checking your child’s teeth regularly can help you identify anything from a little food stuck between teeth to tooth decay.

No matter the state of your child’s mouth, regular checkups can help you to identify and treat problems early on. Even if the issue is something serious that you can’t treat at home, you will be able to bring them to a professional before it gets too serious.

For teenagers, checking on the development of their wisdom teeth is also incredibly important, as infections can develop in the gums where the wisdom teeth are growing. 

Wear a Mouthguard 

If your child plays sports of any kind, it’s a good idea to get them a mouthguard to use. Even if your child is not playing contact sports like football or wrestling, mouthguards are still highly recommended. Children playing sports like tennis, basketball, or soccer can still be bumped by people or objects in the mouth, potentially hurting the alignment of their teeth.

Mouthguards are very accessible for a wide range of styles and prices. If buying a custom-fit appliance from a dentist isn’t an option for you, invest in a good quality mouthguard available at most sports equipment stores. These come with instructions for fitting and use. Also, be sure that the mouthguard that you buy is sport-appropriate, as different sports may require different types.  

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Make Brushing and Flossing Fun 

One of the best ways to do this is by making brushing teeth fun. Brush together when possible. Listening to fun music can help you to not only have more fun but also time your brushing. Dentists suggest brushing for two minutes a session, with two sessions a day. If you’re not able to be there when it's time to brush teeth, use incentives to keep your younger children from skipping brushing. The same goes for their once-a-day flossing. Flossing might seem like a hassle but it has to be done, regardless of the inconvenience. There’s just no getting around it. 

Help Your Children Meet Their Dentist 

Is your child afraid of the dentist? Is that fear causing problems at the dentist's office? One of the best ways to help to address this fear is by letting your child meet their dentist before their next treatment. Call your local dentist office to set up a time where your child can meet their dentist or one of the dental hygienists to talk about who the dentist is and what they do.

Many fears come from confusion as to who the dentist is and what they do. Most dentists are willing to speak to their young patients about who they are and the procedures that your child may need to help them become more comfortable in the examination chair. A child is less likely to fear a visit to a dentist that they already trust so building that trust is key in helping your child put their fears to rest. 

As part of Project Smile, Dr. Graham Reed of Waterloo Dental will giveaway a free smile makeover. More information on the giveaway can be found on this page. 

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 Waterloo Dental, 4106 Marathon Blvd Unit A , Austin, TX 78756, (512) 451-1222