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As parents, we all want what’s best for our kids. When it comes to oral health, it is often hard to know how to get your kids to engage and make it a life-long healthy habit. What we do know is that oral health is directly connected to overall health.
First, here’s the scary: Over the past decade, there has been overwhelming evidence documenting the relationship between oral health and systemic disease. Some systemic conditions reportedly associated with oral health and inflammatory diseases include: diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory and vascular disease, oral cancer, pancreatic cancer, preterm birth and low birth weight.
Harvard medical studies have reported that inflammation in the mouth provokes inflammation throughout the body, including in the arteries, where it can lead to heart attack and stroke. One of the best tools we have to avoid gum disease is to floss regularly. How do we teach kids (and some adults) to develop and maintain this habit?
Now the solution: Developing these healthy habits at an early age can lead to a lifetime of healthy choices. To help further develop your routine, here are a few tips from Dr. Jill Lasky, a leading Pediatric Dentist who practices at the Lasky Pediatric Dental Group in Tarzana, CA.
1. Have a Routine
Brush every morning and night no matter how long, just develop this habit. First, explain the necessity of oral hygiene to your child. Brushing twice a day helps prevent plaque. Plaque is a bacteria film that sticks to the outside of your teeth. This bacteria loves sugar.
2. Sticky is Icky
It’s best to avoid sticky foods because the longer food stays in your mouth, the greater the risk of developing cavities. Think grapes, not raisins, think M&M’s, not lollipops.
3. Grazing is for Cows
Snacking throughout the day will feed decay-making bacteria. It is better to set and maintain regular mealtimes for your child’s optimum dental and physical health.
4. When all else fails, water works…
Avoid sports and soft drinks. Even the low calorie ones. The sugar and citric acid in these drinks can wreck havoc on your teeth. The best way to hydrate your body is with water. Brushing and flossing is not the only way to help prevent decay. As your child becomes more active or independent in caring for their oral health, chewing xylitol-containing gum or rinsing your mouth out with water after eating can help prevent decay.
Flossing can be fun! I created GumChucks with the intention of making it easier for parents and kids to adopt a lifelong flossing habit. Resembling miniature Nunchucks, the unique system makes it easy to wrap floss around the gum line in a “C” shape - the most effective and proper flossing technique recommended by top dental professionals.
Learn more at www.gumchucks.com
Keith Allen is a father and the founder/creator of GumChucks®