Healthy Teeth, Healthy Body: How Practicing Good Oral Hygiene Can Help Prevent Your Child From Becoming Overweight
April 12, 2018
When parents work with their children to help them focus on good oral health habits, they can also help them avoid the poor eating habits that can lead to being overweight or obese. Because weight can be a delicate topic for people of any age, many parents find it difficult to discuss it with their kids. Parents may worry about hurt feelings or damaging their child’s self-esteem. If you feel this way, you’re not alone — but the good news is that there’s a whole different way to approach this discussion by focusing on oral health instead.
What We’ve Learned About Eating Behaviors and Oral Health
In a recent study out of Sweden, a group of preschool and elementary school aged children was evaluated. The children’s eating habits were monitored over an entire day, and their height and weight were recorded alongside this information. Interestingly, the study revealed that the children who ate more often — including high sugar content foods — also had an increased level of the damaging bacteria that cause cavities in their mouths. In another related sub-study, it was revealed that the children who eat healthy enjoyed improved mental health and better self-esteem.
Overall, the message is clear: If you emphasize the importance of good oral health with your child, you’ll also be helping them avoid becoming overweight or obese — and you never even have to mention weight this way!
How to Help Your Child Learn About Good Oral Hygiene — and Good Health
Regular visits with your child’s pediatric dentist are a crucial part of maintaining good oral health, but improved oral health can begin at home. Discuss food with your child by telling them about the damaging effects of sugar. Explain that sugar feeds upon bacteria in the mouth and then soon starts making acids that can cause cavities, gum disease, and even more serious health problems.
Simply replacing high sugar snacks with more natural options — for example switching out a candy bar for an apple — allows your child to protect their teeth better. Of course, it also happens that the natural snacks tend to be much lower in empty calories and saturated fats than their high sugar counterparts do, and this means that it’s easier to keep weight in check by eating this way.
Emphasize the food pyramid and discuss how to get all the food groups in every day as a way to help protect the teeth. Your child might even view this as a fun challenge and may be excited to help you plan menus. When your child understands that there are great tasting and healthy choices from all categories — dairy, grains, veggies, fruits, and proteins — they’ll be much more likely to be positive about eating healthy.
What to Avoid
The way to control your child’s weight is not to prevent them from eating. In fact, studies show that kids who had parents that prevented them from eating tended to be overweight just a few years later. By helping your child make better choices — and explaining why those choices are better — they’ll grow up gravitating towards more natural foods, less high fat and high sugar foods, and an overall healthier approach to eating. Framing the eating changes as a positive change for oral health means that your child is much more likely to accept the dietary changes as necessary and important.
Next time you visit the pediatric dentist, make sure to mention the dietary changes that you and your child have made together. Some positive reinforcement from your child’s dentist can really help them stay motivated about eating healthy to achieve strong and beautiful teeth as they grow.
Make an Appointment With Dr. Davis
Dr. Maggie Davis is a pediatric dentist who provides care for patients from all over the Palm Harbor, Florida area. She offers support for parents and children starting from their very first dental appointment and lasting all the way through the teenage years. Dr. Davis offers general dentistry, preventative care, cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics, dental fillings, root canals, and any other oral care that your child might need. Contact the office anytime to arrange a visit with Dr. Davis!
January 3, 2018
With New Year just around the corner, it’s important to help your child make some resolutions that really stick. One of the best resolutions you can make for your child is better oral health. It’s also an easily achievable resolution, as long as you’re there to support your child’s journey to improved oral health. Here’s what you need to know to make that resolution into reality.
When to Schedule Visits With Dr. Maggie
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that your child’s first visit to the dentist is scheduled when his or her first tooth erupts. In the event that your child still doesn’t have their first tooth by 12 months of age, go ahead and schedule his or her first visit with Dr. Maggie at that time. Visits are typically scheduled every six months throughout childhood. Dr. Maggie can work with you to create a customized dental care schedule based on your child’s specific individual needs.
Making Good Oral Health Habits Fun
One of the big obstacles to creating good oral health habits in children is keeping their interest. However, if you use a few tips for making dental care more fun, it might just keep your child engaged long enough to make these new practices into long term habits. Here are a few tips that can peak your child’s interest while they improve his or her oral health.
One tip for making good oral health care habits is allowing them to choose their own brushing tools. Make choosing a new toothbrush into a fun event — whether your child wants a princess toothbrush or a musical one, it’s fine as long as it has soft bristles! Make sure that your child also selects the right size toothbrush. Dr. Maggie can recommend the right toothbrush size for your child’s current stage of development.
Allowing your child to select their own toothpaste can also be a good move in terms of keeping them interested in the oral health care process. There are plenty of fun flavors out there today — from vanilla to fruit flavor to bubblegum — that your child is likely to fall in love with. If your child is old enough to use mouthwash, they can pick out their own fun-flavored mouthwash as well.
Help Your Child Enforce Their New Routine — The Fun Way!
One smart way to get your child to actually adhere to their new oral health care routine is to help them feel like they’re in charge. Did you know that it’s recommended that you brush for two full minutes at a time, twice each day? Many people of all ages tend to skimp on the brushing time simply because they’re not keeping track.
Consider using a kitchen timer that your child can actually set themselves. They’ll not only enjoy turning the dial, but also the feeling that they’re really in charge of something. As your child grows older, you can replace the kitchen timer with an alarm on the phone, tablet, or other digital device. It might surprise you how diligent your child is about brushing for their full two minutes at a time when you bring this tip into the mix.
Looking For a Pediatric Dentist Who Really Cares?
Dr. Maggie Davis serves pediatric patients in the Palm Harbor, Florida area. She offers a full menu of pediatric dentistry services including regular check-ups, fillings, porcelain crowns, root canal therapy, consultations, emergency dentistry, digital imaging, bonding, cosmetic teeth whitening, counseling regarding thumb sucking or pacifier use, counseling regarding intraoral piercings, and supportive care for young patients who have special health concerns. To ensure optimal levels of patient comfort, Dr. Davis offers multiple sedation methods including nitrous oxide, IV sedation, and sedation via oral medication. The top priority for Dr. Maggie is always making sure that her young patients are comfortable — and that they have the tools they need to grow up with great oral health. Contact the office anytime to schedule an appointment with Dr. Davis!