Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Dental health is an essential — yet often overlooked — aspect of one's general well-being.
Busy days at work and school can hamper our oral care routine. Kids, on the other hand, would rather munch on their favorite snacks and sweets than grab a toothbrush after meals.
But the risks that come with not brushing our teeth go beyond gum disease and bad breath — it may affect our social and psychological welfare.
Children, in particular, are the most vulnerable to problems brought by poor dental health as its consequences can escalate up until adulthood.
How poor dental habits affect kids
Global health research shows that having dental conditions during childhood will effectively limit a student's performance in school and education — an effect of all the absences due to sickness.
Filipino children are mostly affected by this, as toothache has been listed as the top reason for abseenteism among students.
Impaired physical appearance due to oral diseases can likewise affect a child's confidence. Tooth loss and even halitosis (chronic bad breath) can prohibit a kid from coming out of his or her shell, making it difficult for him or her to develop social relationships with peers.
In the Philippines, local data shows that dental caries, or tooth decay, has the greatest impact on the quality of life of children.
This condition has been directly linked to poor diet and nutrition which— if not managed properly— can lead to other illnesses in the long run.
What to do when your kids resist brushing
In line with this, medical experts have long urged parents and caregivers to help children practice good oral health habits.
However, it's common for your kids to clamp down whenever they see a toothbrush nearby.
Here are some simple yet effective ways to encourage your child fight the invisible enemy of cavities:
- Get the child involved: Letting your kid pick a colorful child-sized toothbrush and flavored toothpaste will make the process fun for your kid.
- Pay a quick visit to the dentist: Having an expert explain the benefits of good dental hygiene to your child can still do wonders. Who knows, maybe your child is in for a sweet treat at the clinic?
- Look for a win-win solution: When their children won't cooperate, some parents resort to giving a reward system. This could mean an additional episode of the kid's favorite cartoon— or perhaps a spontaneous afternoon walk in the park.
- Don't take the fun out: Parents can still make brushing fun and playful for kids by humming a tune or even "accidentally" spraying their kids with water.
An early start to a proper dental hygiene will contribute to good overall physical health and emotional well-being. A brush or two will lead not only to a smile — sometimes it will also last you a lifetime.