Pediatric Dentistry: Helping Kids Build Healthy Self-Esteem
Your Child’s Smile Can Have a Positive or Negative Impact on Their Self-Image.
A tough period of time for many kids is adolescence, the fairly tumultuous phase of life where kids are going through puberty and gradually shifting from preteens into teenagers. A lot of physical and psychological changes happen at this time, with one of the biggest being body image and self-esteem.
As a parent of a preteen or teenager, you might notice that your child has started to become much more aware of how they look physically. They might compare themselves to friends or people they follow on social media. You might even hear your son or daughter voice their self-esteem troubles with self-defeating remarks like, “I wish I was skinny” or “I wish I was more athletic.”
Encouraging positive body image is important to parents, but many parenting books, magazines, and blogs tend to focus specifically on body weight or body shape. Your child’s smile and oral health play an equal role in their self-esteem and body confidence.
Exploring the Psychological Impact of Oral Health on Kids
The topic of poor oral health tends to focus on physical effects. As a parent, you want your child to have a healthy smile in order to prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and the fillings, dental crowns, and other treatments that follow those dental issues. A healthier smile also means fewer emergency dental appointments and surprise toothaches.
The physical health benefits of your child’s smile are huge, but the psychological impact is also highly influential on their self-esteem.
Studies show that a great smile is an integral part of success in life. This doesn’t mean a smile that isn’t conventionally attractive will lead to failure, but that a healthy, attractive smile tends to increase success in relationships and careers. While this study focuses on professional adults, the very same findings can apply directly to teenagers.
Teens with a bright, healthy smile and straight teeth may find it easier to make friends, develop relationships with teachers, and eventually do well with job or college interviews. A big reason for this is confidence. The more confident your child or teen feels about their smile, the more likely they will happily share their grin with the world. This in turn makes your child seem more happy, friendly, and confident to those around them.
How to Help Kids Build Smile Confidence Through Lifelong Oral Health Habits and Dental Care
If your child isn’t feeling confident about their smile at the moment, there’s plenty you can do to help them get a smile they’ll feel proud to show off!
The first thing is to focus on your child’s oral health. The foundation of a beautiful smile is optimal oral health, after all. Once your child has achieved a healthy, decay-free smile, the second thing is to consult their pediatric dentist to see what restorative or cosmetic dental work can further help.
Optimal oral health begins at home with a thorough dental care routine.
The basics of a great dental care routine for your child include:
- Brushing at least twice a day for two minutes
- Flossing at least once daily
- Using an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste
- Swishing with an ADA-approved anti-cavity mouth rinse
If your preteen or teen is concerned about having fresh breath, a tongue scraper can be a great tool to add to their routine. You may also upgrade your child to a powered toothbrush with soft bristles for an even better clean.
Schedule your child’s preventive care appointment every 6 months.
Preventive dental care appointments ensure your child’s on the right path toward excellent oral health. These check-ups give their pediatric dentist a chance to catch early warning signs of trouble before they become a big problem. An in-depth cleaning with a hygienist also removes plaque build-up to help with cavity prevention.
Kids of all ages should visit their pediatric dentist every 6 months unless otherwise directed.
Cosmetic and restorative pediatric dental care is a great finishing touch.
If your child is concerned with how their smile looks, there are many options available for older preteens and teens.
Crooked or misaligned teeth can be fixed with orthodontic care. Yellowed or stained teeth may be brightened with supervised professional whitening. Permanently damaged teeth may be covered with a beautiful dental crown. Even missing adult teeth can be replaced with a dental implant or bridge.
An experienced pediatric dentist, like the team at Pediatric Dental Specialists, will help guide the way.
5 Tips to Help Kids Develop a Positive Body Image
While you’re by your child’s side through their journey to a smile they love, here are 5 helpful positive body image tips to keep in mind.
Be a role model for positive body image.
Present yourself as a role model for positive body image by being careful of how you talk about your body. Do your best to practice self-compassion for your physical appearance and health and build the kind of self-esteem in yourself that you want your child to have.
Focus on health rather than weight.
Weight and health do often coincide, but a heavy focus on weight can be detrimental to healthy eating patterns. If your child or teen wants to lose weight, focus on good food choices and the health benefits rather than simply “being skinnier.”
Talk about social media deception.
Talk often about how social media and media, in general, can skew what we view as normal, healthy, and natural. Preteens and teens are exposed to influencers with plastic surgeries, heavy photo editing, and posing on a daily basis. Remind them that these images are not exactly what they seem.
Encourage active hobbies or sports.
Ask your child about what hobbies or sports they’d like to pursue and do what you can to foster their passion. Sports and hobbies that focus on achievement are generally a better idea than activities that focus on appearance, such as beauty pageants.
Focus on character over appearance.
A person’s character is far more important than appearance. Gently remind your child of this fact by offering compliments based on character rather than appearance.
Oftentimes simply having an open discussion with your preteen or teen about how they feel can go a long way in determining what you can do to help them boost their self-esteem.
Pediatric Dental Specialists Is Ready to Help Your Child Feel More Confident
The Pediatric Dental Specialists team is passionate about helping kids and teens feel proud of their smiles. We also offer a number of restorative and cosmetic dental care options for kids and teens who need a little extra help getting their dream smile.
When you and your child are ready to meet our team, just give our nearest office a call or fill out this online request form.