Teeth are one of the first things that people notice about someone else, so for this reason, maintaining good oral care is essential for all ages.
However, it can be infuriatingly difficult to keep your child excited about proper oral care. It can seem like a never-ending battle to make brushing, flossing and dental check-ups a positive experience.
In order to teach your child healthy habits that will last a lifetime, and ensure they grow up with a beautiful smile, here are seven genius ways to teach your kids good dental hygiene.
1. Make it a combined effort.
As a parent, you are cognizant that kids like to mimic what adults do and say. By brushing and flossing together, you are not only showing them your excellent brushing technique, but you are also making it an enjoyable experience.
If they are too young to floss their own teeth or brush their own tongue, make it a combined effort and help them out. The two of you can even make up your own personal rhyme or song about dental hygiene. That is one way to keep it exciting!
2. Purchase a special brush.
These days, there are plenty of fun toothbrushes on the market. When it is time to replace their toothbrush, consider purchasing your child a colorful, soft-bristled brush with their favorite cartoon or movie character. This way, you can ensure they maintain a bond with their brush and their interest stays alive.
Depending on their age, you could also explain that this fun toothbrush is one of their friends!
3. Don’t forget the special toothpaste.
In addition to the brush, the toothpaste you choose for your child can also be a source of amusement. It isn’t hard to imagine how much more your child is going to like using a strawberry or watermelon flavored paste, over a boring minty one!
4. Make it a challenge.
One way of ensuring that your child brushes for two minutes, twice a day (the length of time recommended by The American Dental Association), is to use a two-minute sand timer. Explain to your child that this is a challenge, and when they flip their sand timer over, they have to keep brushing until it stops.
5. Utilize help.
It takes a village to raise a child, and there is plenty of help out there when it comes to teaching healthy habits. Whether you choose to check out a children’s book from the library that encourages healthy oral care habits or show your child a fun video about dental hygiene, these stories and videos are designed to teach the lessons that may be hard for you to communicate.
Not only will these be enjoyable entertainment options for your child, but they also make the sometimes-boring job of brushing your teeth something they can relate to.
6. Build a reward system.
Reward systems work for all ages, but there is nothing children love more than an extra gold star. Hang a poster up and allow your child to decorate it with gold stars every time they brush their teeth.
7. Help the dentist out.
Even adults have a tendency to hate visiting the dentist, but regular check-ups are something that we all have to do and are a critical part of good dental hygiene. Make sure that you and your child are visiting the best local dentists every six months and ask them each time for ways you can improve your child’s oral care.
That being said, after each dentist visit, surprise your child with something fun. Whether that is extra-long time to play, a meal at their favorite restaurant, or a new book, help to create the idea that a dentist visit can be part of something fun.
Many new parents are unsure about when their child should first pay a dentist a visit. And the answer is that your child should see a dentist by his or her first birthday. Your child should begin to use toothpaste when he or she is two years old; but, bring in fluoride toothpaste when your child is old enough not to swallow it. Regarding flossing, as soon as two teeth touch each other, floss between them once a day.
Dr. Yvette Porter is the founding dentist at Apple Dental in Newstead, Brisbane, which she started over 11 years ago, and continues to own and practice there today. She works with a team of female dentists who aim to provide gentle, and affordable dental care to patients in Brisbane. Dr. Porter is a member of the Australian Dental Association and is passionate about family, and children’s dentistry, hoping to make their dental experience truly pleasant.