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You want your child to have a good smile; healthy teeth that shine when opens his mouth. You also want him to be happy, free, and to fully relish the joys of life.
Are those two mutually exclusive? Sometimes it feels like it when you walk with your five year old through the candy aisle, or when you remind your eight year old for the fifteenth time to brush his teeth.
And then sometimes it feels like it doesn’t matter. These ‘baby teeth’ will soon be gone, anyway: who cares if they’re pitted with cavities now?
Why Baby Teeth Matter
But actually, it matters. The connection between white smiles and happy smiles isn’t just superficial: your child will probably never be more miserable than when he has a toothache. What’s more, the state of your child’s teeth now has a lot to do with the condition his adult teeth will be in: this is the time to start good habits, and if you let baby teeth decay away, adult teeth grow in misaligned and crooked.
Strong Teeth for Your Child
What ought you to be doing, then, to help your child gain strong teeth? Nag him ever day to brush them, and scold whenever he eats too much candy? No; both of those can be counterproductive, and, let’s face it, the issue is deeper than that.
What your child puts in his mouth is important. Sweetened drinks are fine for a treat, but no good for everyday consumption. Same with candy. Teach your child to drink water when he’s thirsty, and provide good and healthy snacks that won’t make his teeth rot—things like apples.
What your child is eating matters as much as what he’s not eating. Give him plenty of calcium—found in milk and dairy products—so those teeth can get strong enough to withstand anything. By giving your child plenty of calcium you’re also ensuring that the adult teeth—both those that have come in and those that are forming under his gums—will be strong as well.
Make tooth-brushing fun. Let your child choose his own toothbrush and toothpaste, and model good toothbrushing practices. Brushing teeth in the morning and evening can actually be a fun thing to do together—you in your mouth with your toothbrush, he in his mouth with his!
Habits that you start now will stay with your child throughout his lifetime—and this is one habit he’ll thank you for.