Good oral health should begin as early as possible. Teaching your kids proper brushing technique and flossing habits will not only save you money on trips to the dentist, but instill in the a lifelong appreciation for maintaining good oral health. Cavities and tooth decay are preventable through good daily oral hygiene. If you are having to battle your kids twice a day to try to get their teeth clean, try some of these tips to start your children on the path to greater oral health.
- Make it a game
If you are having trouble getting your children to brush their teeth, you may only need to shift the context to make a horrible chore into an exciting experience. Instead of approaching brushing time as a task that must be done, or a mandatory requirement, go at it like it is a game. Set up a scenario, like the Plaque King is threatening to take over the Tooth Kingdom, and only through brushing can they save the kingdom.
Or for the two minute sessions, have the child choose their favorite song and brush along to the song. Or you can try reading from their favorite story for two minute. Switch it up, so each brushing session is an exciting time the child will look forward to participating in. Setting a timer and expecting results is a recipe for frustration and unbrushed teeth.
- Start early
Start teaching your child how to brush their teeth as early as you can, as this instills in them a habit when it is much easier for them to learn. Dentists recommend starting dental care before their first tooth arrives. Consult with your dentist about what steps you should take for your child. Dental health is an important aspect of your overall health and will often determine the rest of your health. By starting as early as possible to encourage good habits, you will be able to put your child on the path to success.
- Be a role model
One of the best and easiest things you can do to get your child optimum oral health is to be their role model. Brush your teeth alongside them, as many children will follow the example of their parents. Make it a bonding time in which you both listen to your favorite song and brush your teeth. Treat the four minutes you spend each day brushing your teeth as a special time, demonstrating its importance and value.
Your children will copy your example and feel proud to be following in your footsteps. By making dental health your priority you make it their priority.
- Consider rewarding their work
One great way that you can turn brushing your teeth from a hassle to an eagerly looked forward to event in the day is to create a reward system. Now, rewarding kids with candy is not the best way to go about promoting good oral health, but consider something like a point system. With a point system you could have a system when for each tooth cleaned, or if they brush the correct length of time, or if they use proper technique they get a point which they can then redeem for a reward.
The rewards could be something like more TV time, or a trip to the movies, or a new toy, or even a special activity that they really enjoy. Get your child involved to create a reward that they will really look forward to getting. Keep the tally of the points earned up in the bathroom that they brush their teeth in.
- Let your child choose their toothbrush
One way you can give your child a sense of ownership over brushing their teeth and their own oral health is by allowing them to choose their own toothbrush. Make the whole trip to the store an event. Now there are so many different types of toothbrushes to choose from, from ones modeled after cartoon characters or superheroes there are bound to be a toothbrush that your child can feel is really theirs. This empowers your child to make them feel like they are responsible for their own oral health.
- Limit or avoid sugary or acidic foods
As a general tip to promote your child’s oral health is to avoid or limit sugary and acidic foods. Sugar is the main food of the bacteria that produce plaque in the mouth, which ultimately wears away the enamel and causes cavities and ultimately tooth decay. By limiting foods with sugar you help prevent there being a lot of food for the bacteria to consume and create plaque. Acidic foods also can lead to wearing away tooth enamel, and sugar sodas are a big destroyer of tooth enamel.