According to the Center for Disease Control, about half of American kids between the ages of 12-15 suffer from tooth decay, which is usually preventable through education and state-wide policy changes. While many children are told that they need to floss and brush regularly, the reasons why they need to do this and other parts of dental hygiene, such as diet, fluoride, and hydration, are often overlooked. One fun way you can teach your child about the different aspects of oral hygiene is by taking them for a nature walk.
Discuss Teeth Whitening With Wild Strawberries
Wild strawberries tend to be smaller and more tart than their domestic counterparts, but they are usually easy to identify and fun to collect. While you are teaching your child how to safely identify wild strawberries, you can do a quick, safe teeth whitening session. Simply cut a wild strawberry in half and rub the juices on your teeth. Wait five minutes and then thoroughly rinse the juice off. The acids in the strawberries will gently whiten your teeth.
While you are whitening your teeth, you should discuss what causes teeth to become stained or discolored, such as trauma, coffee, and cigarettes. Let your child know that teeth naturally come in many shades and whitening them too often can remove the enamel, which protects the teeth from decay. The best way to keep your teeth white is through daily brushing and avoiding substances that would stain them.
Discuss Remineralization With a Red Clover
Red clover is a type of clover with a distinct, purple flower. The flower is sweet and can be added to salads or eaten plain. One of the many benefits of red clover is that it helps restore strength to teeth and bones.
This provides an excellent opportunity to discuss remineralization with your child. Teeth can actually heal small cavities or weak spots through a process called remineralization. However, this only occurs if the proper vitamins and minerals are provided in the diet. Red clover contains isoflavones, which prevent bone loss and may help support healthy teeth. However, you should discuss other necessary minerals such as silicon and calcium, which can also be added to your daily diet.
Discuss Mouth Bacteria With Chicory Tea
Chicory is a bitter plant that is often used as a coffee replacement. However, the leaves can be steeped in water to make a weak, antibacterial tea or mouth rinse for your child. Chicory is especially effective against the bacteria that grows on teeth, which can cause plaque.
This creates a perfect time to discuss good and bad bacteria and the many ways your child can manage oral bacteria, such as rinsing with water after meals, brushing and flossing, and staying properly hydrated.
Discuss Gum Heath With Watercress
Watercress is a small weed that grows along most bodies of water in the wilderness. It is completely edible and contains anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe inflamed gums and help strengthen bleeding gums. You can eat all of the watercress plant, or you can simply chew on the leaves and spit them out after 3-4 minutes.
This will allow you to point out the importance of taking care of your gums and preventing gingivitis. Many children focus on their teeth when they think about oral care, and they fail to see the importance of stimulating, cleaning, and strengthening their gums.
Spending a day in the woods with your child can be a fun way to bond while informing them about the basics of good oral hygiene. At the end of the day, your child should realize that oral hygiene is not simply about brushing, but a collection of behaviors such as diet, exercise, and visiting the dentist, that creates a healthy mouth. And always emphasize the importance of regular checkups with a dentist like Bedich Joseph D DDS FAGD.