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Oral hygiene is something we should be taking seriously throughout our lives, but during childhood, it’s especially important. You don’t want your child’s dental health to be poor, but you also don’t want their dental hygiene habits to be poor either, since they are likely to carry those habits adulthood.
Aside from simply staying healthy, there are a few surprising reasons why you want to make sure you instill healthy oral hygiene habits during childhood. Read on to learn six of the most surprising reasons why oral hygiene during childhood is important.
Baby Teeth Are More Susceptible to Cavities
As is the case with most infants, primary teeth begin growing in at around six months of age and will continue on for another two years after that. While one may think that oral hygiene is less important since these are the baby teeth, this is most definitely not the case. Baby teeth are more easily susceptible to cavities than adult teeth, making it crucial that you provide your child with proper oral hygiene.
You’ve likely heard other parents express frustration at the difficulty they have getting their children or even adolescents to brush their teeth regularly. This difficulty can be nipped in the bud by starting early with your children. It is, in essence, a great head start.
It Can Prevent Dental Disease
We all know that brushing our teeth as well as flossing protects us from dental disease, such as oral infections, gingivitis, plaque, and cavities. However, starting early with your child is a great way to get the ball rolling with this protection. After all, as we mentioned above, baby teeth are more easily susceptible to damage and problems than adult teeth due to less density in their mineralization. Using fluoride-rich toothpaste is also important in establishing this defense.
It Can Improve Speech Development
Something that many people might not know is that a healthy set of baby teeth is not just important for children to learn how to chew properly, but also important in the development of their ability to talk. Lost or badly-formed teeth can actually lead to difficulties in pronunciation of words, making speech development for the child much more difficult than it needs to be and lead to difficult and even embarrassing speech impediments.
For example, if a child has poorly-developed, damaged, or even missing some of his or her primary teeth, it can cause difficulty with certain phonetic sounds, such as the “f” sound. While obstacles to speech development like this can be overcome with the help of a speech pathologist, it can be completely avoided with proper oral hygiene.
It Helps Act as a Bulwark Against a Poor Diet
Not all children are going to have the healthiest diets, especially at school. You don’t want to deny your children the occasional treat, after all. With the rise of sugary foods including cereals and candies that you can see when you enter any grocery store, it should come as no surprise that oral hygiene is especially important to many parents whose children consume a lot of this food.
This isn’t to say that it’s wrong to let your children indulge every now and then with the occasional ice cream or candy bar. It’s just important to make it clear to them how crucial it is for them to brush their teeth extra carefully that night before they go to bed and any time they’ve eaten something with lots of sugar in it.
It Can Help With the Development of Permanent Teeth
Most children don’t start losing their baby teeth and seeing the growth of their adult permanent teeth until they’re around six years old. During this time, children are at their highest risk of developing cavities and other dental problems.
This is due to not just potential difficulties at reaching these new permanent teeth as they’re at the initial stages of growing in, but also because the permanent teeth still contain more pores than they will when they finish coming in.
During the process of your child’s permanent teeth growing in, something called “second maturation” starts to occur in which another stage of mineralization of the child’s new teeth starts to occur and the teeth’s enamel is strengthened as ions enter the porous parts of the permanent teeth. During this development and due to the porousness, the new teeth are especially vulnerable to bacteria that has collected on or around the already present baby teeth.
This is one of the biggest reasons that it is very important to establish good oral hygiene habits during childhood since it can directly affect the trajectory your child’s oral health takes as he or she ages.
It Helps Establish Good Habits
Provided you’ve started your child on a good oral hygiene habit from a very early age, you’re unlikely to ever have trouble getting them to brush and floss their teeth again as they grow and age. This is because you’ve conditioned them over the years to understand the importance of proper oral hygiene. It’s necessary to supervise your children’s toothbrushing habits from an early age until you think they’ve become conditioned enough to do it on their own.
Ways to help facilitate this include always brushing with your children, providing your professional schedule doesn’t conflict with their school schedule. Making it a daily ritual helps establish its familiarity. After time has passed and your schedules begin to differ as they approach adolescence, you can encourage them to brush their teeth on their own. By then, a healthy habit, along with good oral hygiene, will have developed.
Kylie Hemswort is a freelance blogger who has been writing about health, fitness, and living an active lifestyle for small businesses, including Children’s Dentistry of Las Vegas, for nearly 10 years. When she’s not brushing up against a deadline, she enjoys hiking in the hills around her Southern California home.