Brushing and flossing aren’t most kids’ favorite hobbies. However, a number of studies suggest that the earlier children are introduced and become involved in their oral health, the healthier they will be throughout their lives. In fact, research indicates that establishing good brushing habits before the age of three can help children reduce their chances of tooth decay and cavities in both primary and permanent teeth.
As a parent, you can help your children establish positive oral health habits that will follow them into adolescence and adulthood. By incorporating a little fun into the dental health routine, you can help your kids develop a commitment to and appreciation for oral hygiene. These five techniques can help you encourage your kids to brush both properly and often.
One of the easiest and most beneficial ways to encourage proper brushing is if your children and you brush your teeth together in a group. Prime tooth brushing time (early mornings and right before bed) can be some of the most stressful times of the day. By brushing together every day, you’ll establish a routine that will make these stressful times more predictable. You’ll also get to serve as a role model for your children, showing them the importance of dental hygiene. Additionally, by brushing together, you’ll be able to identify and gently correct what they’re doing wrong.
Use “Fun” Brushes and Pastes
Rather than relying on basic toothbrushes and toothpastes, allow your child to select their own themed toothbrush and flavored toothpaste. You can find your child’s favorite princess or superhero on the handle of a brush or flosser designed for little mouths in your local drug store. These tools can help you get your kids interested in brushing and flossing. When they’re motivated to use their special brushes and pastes, they’ll be excited enough to remember to brush and floss and interested enough to take their time.
You want to instill a sense of independence in your children, but you still need to check their teeth when they brush. To accomplish this without a fight, brush your teeth in front of your child (modeling good oral hygiene techniques), and then ask them to be the dentist and check them. Next, you be the dentist and ask your child to be the patient while you check their teeth. This way, you’ll not only get to check your child’s teeth, but you’ll also be able to give wise brushing advice in a way that is fun rather than nagging.
Sing a Brushing Song
Even with character toothbrushes and colored toothpastes, most kids want to rush through brushing so they can get back to their toys. To help them take the time they need, teach them to brush while singing a certain song in their heads. When the song is done - so are they! Are popular choice is “Happy Birthday,” though you might need to ask your children to sing it two or three times if they tend to pick up the tempo.
Earn and Learn
Remind your children that they need to brush and floss every day with a rewards system that recognizes them for their efforts. For very young children, a simple sticker chart can do the trick. Older children might be more impressed with a reward chart that promises a larger prize if they brush and floss every day for a week or two. Choose a reward your child will love, such as a day at the beach or a stuffed animal, but don’t choose candy. This will only undermine your aim of helping them develop a healthy smile.
Great oral hygiene and health starts at home. With a few of these time-trusted techniques, you can encourage effective, independent oral care. However, it’s still important for your child to regularaly see a dentist for professional cleanings. Regular dental checkups can keep your kids motivated, your teeth clean, and dental problems at bay. Schedule an appointment today at Willow Glen Dentistry, and we’ll work with you to help you keep your children smiling.