Brushing up on healthy dental habits for your kids - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Brushing up on healthy dental habits for your kids

Flavored toothpaste, flossing aids, and Xylitol  suckers can help encourage healthy oral hygiene. Flavored toothpaste, flossing aids, and Xylitol suckers can help encourage healthy oral hygiene.

February is National Children's Dental Health Month.  The month is to bring awareness about good oral hygiene, and to brush up on healthy dental habits for kids.

Dentist Doug Wheelock has seen many small mouths over the years.  The two most common problems he sees are tooth decay and gingivitis.  He says they are preventable problems.

"It all boils down to care, plaque removal, brushing and flossing two times a day," says Dr. Wheelock.  "What we need to look at is prevention. So many people look at us as the fixers.  We fix things when things are broken, but what we like to do is to help prevent so we don't have to get into that fix mode."

February is National Children's Dental Health Month.  While taking care of our teeth is important year round, Dr. Wheelock suggests going over a few good hygiene habits with your kids.

"The earlier you start, the better it is," says Dr. Wheelock.  "If you start a child when they are three or four and say 'ok, we are going to start brushing and flossing,' then you are probably going to be met with some resistance, but if you start them when the teeth first come in, then it's going to be part of the routine."

He suggests using a soft, small toothbrush that lights up or plays a tune.

"I like toothbrushes that capture the kid's attention so they want to use it," says Dr. Wheelock.

He says help your kids to brush and floss their teeth twice a day.  A kid-friendly flavored toothpaste can help encourage them to brush and using a special kids flossing tool can make it easier to get in between those tiny teeth.  

And candy at a dentist office?

Dr. Wheelock recommends special suckers made with Xylitol can help prevent cavities.

"It interferes with the acid production with the bacteria," says Dr. Wheelock.

He also says your child should have their first visit to the dentist before they are three years old.

"Just like every other part of their health, their dental health is very very important and it will have an impact on their life," says Dr. Wheelock.

But the best way to teach your kids?

"Just like everything else, set an example," says Dr. Wheelock.  "If the child sees you brushing and flossing and explain to them why you are doing it, to keep your teeth healthy."

Using all the tools available, Dr. Wheelock say helping your kids develop good habits at an early age, will give them a start to healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime.

For more tips and ways on how to teach your kids good dental hygiene habits, go do American Dental Association website at  You'll find more information and fun videos for your kids about how to keep their pearly whites healthy.

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