Teaching Dental Hygiene to Kids
The best thing you can do for your child’s dental health is to form good oral health habits at a young age, setting them up for good oral hygiene for the rest of their life. The oral hygiene regimen they form in their young years is most likely the same routine they will follow into their adulthood. Here are some tips for making oral health a regular, positive part of their day-to-day routine.
Brush Your Teeth Together
If your children form the habit of brushing twice a day at a young age, they are likely to keep it up into adulthood. So how do you form this habit? Part of it is simply making sure it happens daily and becomes second nature, but it is also important to lead by example. Children tend to follow the behaviours of their parents, so make sure you are brushing twice daily too! Brush your teeth at the same time as your kids to make it into a bonding activity and ensure they see that you take good care of your own teeth as well. Young children who don’t have the dexterity to brush their own teeth will need you to do it for them, so brush your teeth first so that they see you doing it and then assist them with brushing theirs. Don’t forget to floss (that goes for you and your children)!
Make Water Their Default Beverage
One of the worst things for teeth are sugary drinks. Make soda either off limits or a treat for special occasions and get kids in the habit of drinking water a lot. Drinking plenty of water is extremely important for overall health, including teeth and gums. If you help your children get in the habit of drinking water with meals and when they’re thirsty, they are less likely to start reaching for sugary, cavity-causing sodas later in life.
Implement a Reward System
Creating a reward system is a great way to get kids excited about oral care. Even if they don’t like brushing their teeth at first, if you associate it with something positive it will become an activity that they want to do. Try a small reward for each day that they brush their teeth twice, such as a fun sticker to add to a calendar or poster. Have a bigger reward for them to look forward to if they brush and floss twice daily for a month, such as a family trip to the movies or another special, fun outing.
Have Fun with It
Just having special oral-hygiene tools that your kids get to pick themselves can make dental care loads more fun. Try getting brightly colored toothbrushes and flossers (the flossers with handles make it easier for little hands to reach back teeth than just floss alone), you can even put stickers on their toothbrush handle. Make sure you are replacing toothbrushes regularly (every 3-4 months and after any sickness or infection) and make choosing a new toothbrush a fun activity. In addition to having lots of appealing colour and design options, dental products made specifically for children are the way to go. This is because kids’ mouths are more sensitive so they need a milder tasting toothpaste and a soft-bristle toothbrush to ensure that toothbrushing isn’t uncomfortable for them.
Get Them Comfortable with the Dentist
It’s important to start taking your children to the dentist early, even if they don’t need any actual dental work done. Getting them comfortable going to the dentist at a young age will make them less likely to be afraid of dental appointments later, which will serve them well for their whole life. Take your child for their first dental visit either when they get their first tooth or when they turn one year old, whichever comes first. Our clinic offers free dental exams for infants under one year old so we can help you get your child started on the path to lifelong oral health.