We all want our children to grow up strong, healthy and happy and nowhere is this better exemplified than in the field of tooth care. Think of it. We spend hours by the sink night after night coaching our kids on how to brush their teeth correctly, how to floss and the importance of mouthwash. We rigorously check their diets to ensure that they are conducive to dental health as well as overall health. Strong pearly white teeth aren’t just attractive, they’re a key indicator of health and facilitate healthy living by allowing us to properly chew our food.
We promote calcium, we use fluoridated toothpaste and we abhor refined sugars. We consult with a dentist or invisalign expert to ensure that our kids’ teeth grow strong and straight. There’s no denying that our intentions are absolutely on the money, but there are occasions when perfectly well-meaning parents can find themselves doing more harm than good.
Here are some common dental health mistakes that all parents need to avoid…
Encouraging kids to brush too hard
My Mom used to make me scrub my teeth like I was scrubbing the bathroom floor. This is a bad habit that I’ve tried to slip in adult life but even then I find myself spitting blood into the sink every now and then. Vigorous brushing doesn’t clear away more tartar (tartar is the consistency of mashed potato after all), and it can lead to receding gums which not only look unsightly but increase the risk of periodontal disease and increased tooth sensitivity.
It can also contribute to a wearing of the tooth enamel which (as it’s not made of living cells) cannot be repaired when it breaks down.
Encouraging drinking milk
Everybody knows that milk is good for teeth, right? I mean, everybody knows that, right? Wrong! Unless you’re raising a baby calf, your children should not be drinking cow’s milk. The dairy industry may have a great (and aggressive) marketing policy but the simple fact is that drinking cow’s milk can have a range of detrimental effects on your child’s health but particularly bad for teeth especially when consumed after brushing. While milk is technically high in protein and calcium (which are great for healthy teeth and bones), our bodies are not equipped to assimilate it. In fact, cow’s milk is highly acidic leading to wearing of tooth enamel and its lactose is also a large contributor to tooth decay and gum disease.
Brushing right after eating
It can be tempting to encourage brushing right after eating, while all those potentially troublesome food particles are still in the mouth. The trouble is that many foods (especially spicy foods) are acidic in nature, this acid exposure makes teeth more vulnerable to pressure applied through the toothbrush. For this reason, it’s best to wait half an hour after eating before your child brushes.
Finally, it’s a little known fact that your child can spend too long brushing their teeth. Two minutes is the perfect time. Make sure they spend 30 seconds on each quarter of the mouth and they’ll be absolutely fine.