Modelling healthy habits for children

Incisive Bite

by Dr Sharon Robinson

Sunday, May 06, 2018

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RATHER than pass on your fear of the dentist to your children, teach them these important dental health habits instead.

Since your children's health is always high on your list of priorities, maintaining a healthy smile should be too. Encouraging habits that will lead to healthy teeth for children will aid them greatly in the future.

Poor dental hygiene, on the other hand, can have many negative consequences, even at a young age. Children with pain from cavities may not chew properly before swallowing, which can reduce the nutrients their bodies absorb from food and thus increase weight gain. This is in addition to the social anxiety and self-esteem issues that can stem from discoloured or cavity-filled teeth.

Thankfully, it is easy to prevent these problems by encouraging good dental hygiene while your children are still young.

Modelling healthy habits matters

Children learn by example, and parents are the first and primary example they have when it comes to creating healthy habits on their own.

The fact is that candy, soda, “fermentable carbohydrates”, and cooked starches like chips and pretzels can create acid that lingers longer in your child's mouth, increasing the rate and risk of tooth decay. So modelling healthy habits when it comes to diet and oral care makes a real difference.

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. Adults actually need 30 minutes of exercise a day, whereas children should receive 60 minutes of time to stay active.

You can model exercise and physical activity for your children by finding a fun activity everyone can enjoy. Whether it's a family hike or a backyard game of baseball, you'll be modelling 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 children 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 children's lunches.

It's important for your children 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.

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. Modelling 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 okay 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 children 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 children 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 children 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 take time, and that time can vary for each person. Committing to these five healthy habits and calling attention to them when you're with your children will help light the way to great oral care into adulthood.

Dr Sharon Robinson DDS has offices at the Dental Place Cosmetix Spa, located at s hop #5, Winchester Business Centre, 15 Hope Road, Kingston 10. Dr Robinson is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Technology, Jamaica, School of Oral Health Sciences. She may be contacted at 630-4710. Like their Facebook page, Dental Place Cosmetix Spa for an opportunity to take advantage of weekly specials.




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