Most parents have stood in the doorway of the bathroom, convincing, cajoling, and commanding that bedtime teeth brushing (and maybe flossing) occur. There always seems to be a laundry list of reasons that your young one can’t clean their chompers—they’re too tired, the toothpaste is spicy, they already did it (no, they didn’t), or they just don’t want to. This battle of wills is enough to test any person’s patience, and it can be easy to throw in the towel. While the occasional skipped tooth-brushing is unlikely to hurt your child, oral hygiene is very important for kids.
It Affects Overall Health
Your kiddo’s teeth and gums have a profound effect on the rest of their body. According to the Mayo Clinic, poor oral hygiene is associated with endocarditis, a severe heart condition, and other cardiovascular issues such as clogged arteries and associated stroke. Even from the simple standpoint of germ theory, you want to protect your kids from harmful bacteria and any potential damage they might cause.
It Saves Money
Poor oral hygiene means that, eventually, your child is going to require a trip to the dentist’s office. While on an emotional level those outings are rarely enjoyable, they can also have a significant effect on your finances. Less brushing and flossing means more cavities, and dental procedures can certainly put a dent in your savings. The cost of a quality toothpaste is absolutely worth it over the long term.
It Saves Pain
A lack of oral hygiene can lead to a number of painful conditions. The most common in children is cavities, which bring toothaches and jaw pain, as well as difficulty eating. It can also lead to tooth decay and a variety of gum diseases. Save both your kids and yourself a lot of pain and heartache by brushing their teeth as soon as they appear in their mouth.
It Starts a Good Habit
It is tempting to let baby teeth decay a bit, as there is another full set of adult teeth on their way, but this is not an effective strategy. Decayed baby teeth can affect the health of the adult teeth that follow them. It also sets a poor precedent for oral hygiene if you don’t start good habits early. Enforcing tooth-brushing with older kids is likely to be much more difficult if they didn’t brush when they were younger.
It Means Setting a Good Example
One of the most effective ways to encourage your child to brush and floss their teeth is to brush and floss your own right alongside them. This is an easy way to spend an extra bit of time together right before bed, and also a good way to set an example for your child. Show them what you are doing, and talk about how much you love that fresh, sparkly feeling of just-cleaned teeth. After a while, your enjoyment is sure to rub off on them.
So the next time you are tempted to skip tooth-brushing and send the kids straight to bed, remember that it really does matter. Yes, the bedtime routine gets wearisome and there will be days when you have to pick your battles, but remember that oral hygiene is important and should not always be the first thing to go. For a bright future that keeps cavities at a minimum, there is nothing better than encouraging your child to brush and floss their teeth.