The classic question of “Nature vs. Nurture” is an interesting one. Clearly, both genetics and the environment have a strong impact on a child’s nature, habits and traits, although researchers haven’t nailed down exactly how much can be attributed to one over the other. But one thing is for sure: Children mimic their behaviors after what they see the people around them doing. That includes the way they take care of their teeth and gums, and even how they feel about visits with a family dentist in Scarborough! Keep reading to learn how children are impacted by the “nature and nurture” of their families and how you can set the stage for them to have the best oral health possible.

Hygiene Habits

Since children want to do everything you do, one of the best ways to instill good brushing and flossing habits is to do reasonably well with it yourself. Depending on the age of your children, one helpful tip is to head into the bathroom together each night and floss your teeth while they’re brushing.

This accomplishes several things at once: You make sure they’re getting the job done right, they see you flossing, and you also have a chance to take great care of your own teeth and gums. Even if you can only do this a few times a week, it instills the idea that flossing is simply a normal part of the hygiene routine.

Diet and Nutrition

Researchers have found that nutritional habits are mostly learned – including what, how much and how often people eat. Here are some great ways to instill good dietary habits in your child:

  • Eat small meals and snacks 4-5 times a day instead of 2-3 large meals
  • The foundation of snacks should be protein, healthy fat and fiber
  • Make sweet foods and beverages treats instead of daily indulgences
  • Avoid juice, which is mostly sugar – choose whole produce instead

Fear of the Dentist

Children can easily “absorb” fear of the dentist from another family member. If they regularly see a parent or sibling who’s nervous or fearful before dental visits, they’ll pick up the idea that it’s a scary place to avoid at all costs!

Also, when you’re talking to your child about their visits to the dentist, try not use phrases like, “Don’t be scared, you’ll be okay,” or “It’s alright, I’ll be there the whole time.”

Children don’t have preconceived notions that the dentist is scary, so these phrases can make them wonder why they would need reassurance in the first place!


Just like your children can inherit your curly hair or brown eyes, they can also inherit dental conditions like crowded teeth, missing teeth or enamel defects. Clearly, this is something that’s beyond your control, but by establishing regular dental care early on, these conditions can be diagnosed and managed as early as possible.

It’s clear that good oral health is a family affair. With these guidelines, you can help everyone in your family have a healthy smile for life!

About the Author

As a family dentist in Scarborough, Dr. Samantha Amaro knows that educating parents lays a foundation of good oral health for the whole family. If you have any questions, she’s always happy to discuss ways for both children and their parents to take great care of their teeth and gums. She can be reached via her website or at (416) 285-4545.