New Year – New Routine - First Things First
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Children are never too young to make new year’s resolutions about improving their dental care.

Saying goodbye to 2020 when the clock struck midnight New Year’s Eve was likely the highlight of the year for most. Yet, with a new year comes another set of new year’s resolutions; and adults aren’t the only ones who should be setting positive goals for the future. In fact, it’s never too early for children to set their own new year’s resolutions, with a little help from their parents or caregivers.

So, grab some crayons, stickers and construction paper and get started on your first arts and crafts project of the year! The poster can be hung in your children’s bathroom or bedroom to keep the goals top of mind throughout 2021. Just be sure to read it to your little ones daily until they have their ‘resolutions’ memorized themselves, and of course, lead by example as much as you can.

For the youngest children, the idea of a resolution may be new, you can share ideas about how to do new good things every day. Instead of a written statement, these concepts can be shared as a picture.

Eating healthier foods is the No. 1 resolution on the list for most people who are polled each year. What better resolution for the whole family to strive to achieve together? Children who eat balanced diets rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods typically have less health and dental problems than those who consume diets filled with sugar and processed foods.

A high-sugar diet is often linked to obesity; and too many sugary foods like soda, juice and candy can lead to tooth decay. Experts recommend that added sugar account for less than 10 percent of total calories consumed each day. Just one can of soda has 10 teaspoons of sugar in it, plus the acidity from sweetened drinks can erode tooth enamel and the high sugar content can cause dental cavities. An example of a young child’s resolution in this category could be:

  • I will eat three fruits and three vegetables every day and only have one sweet treat.

A second resolution for children to aim for in 2021 is a better, more consistent oral hygiene routine. This should include brushing teeth (with adult supervision or help) at least twice a day for two minutes at a time. Flossing between teeth and using a mouth rinse with fluoride is also extremely helpful in fighting off tooth decay which can lead to cavities and other problems. To motivate children with these healthy habits, you can purchase inexpensive toothbrushes that include built-in timers, have lights and play music in some cases. There are also fun flavored toothpastes and flossers that may help them to stick to their tooth-care resolutions.

Finally, don’t forget to set their bi-annual dental visits in the new year. Children should see their dentist twice a year for cleanings and checkups starting with their first birthday or with their first tooth. An example of how to write a resolution for oral healthcare could be:

  • I will brush my teeth twice a day, floss and rinse with the help of my parents.

Getting active and exercising more is also an extremely popular new year’s resolution. This is another goal that can be a family affair. Just be sure to protect your children’s mouth and teeth if their activities include soccer, tee-ball or other sports that could lead to broken teeth or other injuries.

Mouthguards come in all shapes, sizes and colors – so be sure to include one when your children are taking part in activities that could lead to chipped or broken teeth. Even toddlers and small kids who are just learning to balance on push bikes or experimenting with their first scooter or pair of roller skates could benefit from a mouthguard or helmet with a face shield and chin strap to protect their tiny teeth and jaws.

No matter how your family decides to come up with resolutions in 2021, the best part is that you’ll be doing it together. The First Things First Cochise Region wishes you and your loved ones a safe, happy and healthy new year.