Invest in a Healthy Smile for Your Child

healthy smile children's dentist Hudsonville MI

You may have considered what it would cost for your child to have a healthy smile, but what does an unhealthy smile cost?

You may have considered what it would cost for your child to have a healthy smile, but what does an unhealthy smile cost? It’s common for parents to imagine an unhealthy smile as crooked or discolored teeth, bad breath, or even tooth loss. But a lack of oral hygiene, our Hudsonville pediatric dentist warns, can also lead to health problems beyond those in your child’s mouth.

The human body is made of interconnected systems, and the mouth serves as the primary gateway for what enters the body. That means that an unhealthy mouth can result in health problems elsewhere. Similarly, the mouth can serve as a diagnostic tool for other health issues that may otherwise seem to have little to do with your child’s smile.

Here’s what you need to know about the oral health of children and why prioritizing their care now will only set them up for success later.

How Your Child’s Oral Health Affects Their Body

Did you know your child’s mouth (and yours) is full of bacteria? Don’t worry — for the most part, this is actually a good thing! A healthy mouth needs to have enough good bacteria to fight off disease-carrying microorganisms that may enter the mouth when you breathe, drink, or eat. 

Unfortunately, not all bacteria in the mouth are quite so beneficial. Plaque forms naturally on your teeth when sugar or carbohydrates are consumed. If not brushed or flossed away regularly, certain bacteria will feed on plaque, producing acid that damages teeth and can lead to tooth decay over time.

These are bacteria that lead to oral health issues you probably already know about — gum disease, tooth decay, etc. But weak teeth, inflammation, and bleeding gums can create opportunities for other harmful bacteria to enter the bloodstream. This can lead to health issues elsewhere in the body later in life, such as heart disease, stroke, lung disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and more.

More studies are needed to determine if oral health causes other health issues, or if oral health is just linked to overall health in some way. Regardless of whether it comes down to causation or correlation, what matters is that there’s a connection.

Oral Hygiene Tips for Protecting Your Child’s Smile

We know that oral health and overall health are linked in some way. So how do you protect both for your child? Luckily, there are 4 simple steps that your child can take to promote a healthy smile:

  1. Get them in the habit of brushing their teeth: The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that your child brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste for 2 minutes at least twice a day. That should eliminate most of the plaque that builds up on their teeth over the course of the day and during the night. 
  2. Make sure they floss daily: If your child brushes their teeth, that will get rid of most, but not all, of their plaque. Unfortunately, your child’s teeth can have some hard-to-reach spots in which plaque can fester and turn into tartar, which is much harder to remove. Flossing lets your child reach those difficult spots to get rid of more plaque.
  3. Feed them a well-balanced diet: Sweet treats and beverages are fine in moderation, but your child shouldn’t be consuming them every single day. It’s important to monitor foods that fall into the categories of sugary, acidic, starchy, and chewy. Remember, your child’s eating habits and oral health go hand in hand.
  4. Schedule a teeth cleaning for your child twice a year: Only a professional teeth cleaning can completely remove tartar from teeth. That’s why we recommend that your child get a teeth cleaning every 6 months. A regular teeth cleaning is also a great opportunity for our dentist to examine your child’s teeth for signs of other oral health issues. That way, we can prevent problems or deal with them while they’re still minor.

Commit to Healthy Smiles

Ourpediatric dentist in Hudsonville, MI, can help your child maintain a healthy smile and promote good oral health and overall health. To schedule an appointment, call Hudsonville Dental Kids today at (616) 209-4039, or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

This blog post has been updated.