If you have kids, there’s a good chance that you know how hard it is to get them to focus on good oral hygiene. Children just don’t have the ability to truly understand the importance of oral and dental health. To them, it’s a chore that must be done, and they don’t like that.

This is where you come in. As a parent, it is imperative that you help them to understand its importance. But even more so, you need to find ways to get your children into the habit of brushing and flossing on a regular basis. But, it doesn’t stop there. Healthy teeth are an essential part of the puzzle, but they also need to learn other basic hygiene tips. Here are a few strategies you can use for all of your child’s hygiene needs:

Lead by Example

Children mimic the things that parents do. If you don’t follow proper hygiene procedures, chances are your children won’t either. So before you start your children on any kind of plan meant to improve their hygiene, make sure that you are already doing all of those things. If not, they’ll become confused as to why you say one thing and do another.

Provide a Demonstration

Whether you’re talking about brushing, bathing, or anything in between, children need to be shown what to do. It may not stick with them the first time, so be prepared to repeat yourself until the child understands the best way to perform each task.

Positive Reinforcement

Children instinctively want to make their parents proud and will respond favorably when you provide them with positive reinforcement. A great way to do this is to create a chart that can track their hygiene activities, which can include brushing their teeth, flossing, washing hands, bathing, etc. Set up a prize at the end of a certain cycle and they’ll actually want to follow the procedures.

Books and Stories

There are plenty of books available on the market that help children realize the importance of good hygiene. They’ll teach kids about germs and bacteria, and how brushing their teeth, washing their hands, and other such activities will keep them healthy and safe. And if your child has a smartphone, you can also download apps to the phone that provide the same kind of information.

Design a Routine and Stick to It

If your hygiene routine is all over the place, it will be hard for a child to stick with it. What you need to do is design a hygiene routine for morning, day, and night, and then make sure you stick with it as much as possible. After a while, the routine will become an automatic response.

Make It Fun

Let’s face it — brushing and flossing can be an extremely boring chore. Children need stimulation if you want them to follow a routine. You’ll want to figure out what is best for your child, but two popular ideas is to use character-oriented toothbrushes and toothpaste, and to play a song that they can dance or sway along to while they’re working on their hygiene.

Good hygiene is important for everyone, and instilling that into your children is the best way to ensure that they grow up to be hygiene-conscious adults. In addition to the tips listed above, you also need to take them to see a dentist on a regular basis. If you need to make an appointment for check-up or cleaning, whether it’s for your children or you, contact the office of Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS, today and we’ll get your entire family started on good oral and dental health.

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When you get up in the morning, do you find yourself experiencing a sore jaw? Or do you have a headache that hits you like a ton of bricks before you’ve even opened your eyes? We hate to break it to you, but it’s possible that you’re grinding your teeth at night.

Teeth grinding is often an overlooked condition because many people dismiss it out of hand. To them, it’s nothing more than an annoyance that they are forced to endure. What they don’t realize is that grinding your teeth can lead to damage if you don’t get it under control. It will often case erosion of your tooth enamel and may even cause damage to any dental work you’ve had done, both of which are an obvious concern that can worsen if the problem isn’t handled.

There are a few different causes of teeth grinding — medically known as bruxism — that you should be aware of. The most common causes are physical. Perhaps you have an abnormal bite or crooked/missing teeth. Other causes are mental, primarily stress or anxiety. No matter the cause, it’s a good idea to see a dentist to help you deal with the problem. Until then, you can try these countermeasures:

Relax Your Jaw

Once you’ve been grinding your teeth, your jaw is going to feel sore. What you want to do is help it to relax. You may be surprised to learn that massaging your jaw can do wonders. Doing this throughout the day in short intervals can relieve the pressure and give you a great deal of relief. Also, if you have a habit of chewing on non-food items such as nails or pencils, cut it out. You’re just making the problem worse.

Relieve Your Stress

If there doesn’t seem to be a physical source of your grinding, then you may be under too much stress. We’re not experts at stress, of course, but we’ve learned some things over the years that have helped patients out tremendously. Exercising and meditation are two fantastic ways to lower a person’s stress level. Other treatments include taking a warm bath, splurging on a spa treatment or massage, reading a book in bed, or anything else that relaxes you.

Wear a Mouth Guard

A serious problem often calls for a serious solution. A mouth guard, which can be custom-made by your dentist, can be used to help protect you from teeth grinding in the same way that one can protect an athlete while playing sports. This won’t stop you from grinding your teeth, but will keep your enamel safe when you do. It may appear a bit unsightly and take some getting used to, but this may be your best bet if the problem persists.

Be Aware of the Problem

Most people who grind their teeth during the day have no idea that they’re doing it. What you need to do is pay attention to what you’re doing, and if you find yourself grinding your teeth, relax your jaw. The biggest defense against this specific area of the problem is to stay aware of it at all times. If, however, you’re grinding your teeth at night, a visit to the dentist is the way to go.

Whether you’re grinding your teeth, trying to improve your smile, or need a thorough cleaning, visiting your dentist on a  regular basis will help improve your dental health. Everyone at the office of Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS, is dedicated to giving you the very best service — and the very best teeth — possible. Contact us today to make an appointment.

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A couple weeks ago, we touched on five bad habits that are ruining your teeth. But if you thought those were the only ones, you thought wrong! Now we’re back with five more bad habits that you should cut out right now or else risk damage and expensive dental work. And without further adieu, here they are:

Bad Habit #1: Brushing Too Hard

As you know, it’s important that you do a good job when brushing your teeth. If you don’t put a good amount of effort into the endeavor, you’ll often be wasting your time. The problem is that some people will get too vigorous with their brushing. If you put too much pressure on your teeth and gums, you may end up causing more harm than good. Hard brushing can wear down your enamel, irritate your gums, and increase your teeth’s sensitivity to cold. In some instances, you may even find that brushing too hard causes cavities. If you feel that you may be a little vigorous, lighten up a little and choose a soft-bristled toothbrush.

Bad Habit #2: Sucking on Lemons

You know that old insult “Go suck on a lemon!”? The funny thing is that some people actually do suck on lemons. They just love the taste of these bitter fruits, and given the fact that people now find hamburgers made with a pair of donuts instead of buns appetizing, we really can’t throw stones. Unfortunately, lemons are very acidic and sucking on them for extended periods of time can corrode your teeth’s enamel, creating a rough texture on the surface of your teeth. If you care about your dental health, this is one habit you should definitely kick right away.

Bad Habit #3: Chewing on Various Objects

As human beings, we tend to get bored very easily. For some reason, this often means that we’ll stick whatever is handy in our mouths in order to keep our brain occupied and pass the time. Certain objects, such as glasses, pens, and pencils, are especially “normal” for such chewing. But as you can imagine, chewing on plastic or wooden items is not healthy for your teeth. Teeth have been known to shift or even crack due to this habit, and it may even damage existing dental work. Our advice: find another way to cure your boredom.

Bad Habit #4: Tooth Grinding and Jaw Clenching

Many people grind their teeth or clench their jaw without ever being aware of it. These actions are typically caused by stress. The bad news is that such severe pressure placed upon your teeth can cause micro-fractures, and sometimes even full-on fractures, to occur in your teeth. Plus, if you’ve had dental work in the past, clenching or grinding can put this work at risk of damage.

Bad Habit #5: Sucking Your Thumb

While a surprising number of adults continue to suck their thumbs (just not in public, so you’ll never know), the primary focus of this bad habit is toward children. Little kids suck their thumbs for a number of reasons, but it mostly has to do with a sense of security or safety. Unfortunately, thumb sucking can cause permanent damage to a child’s permanent teeth over time, specifically misalignment. This misalignment can lead to difficulty chewing, in addition to breathing problems. The sooner you can get your child to stop sucking his or her thumb, the better off everyone will be.

If you need further help breaking these habits or simply need a dental check-up, contact the friendly office of Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS. We will help guide you on your way to dental and oral perfection.

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