Toddlers, tweens, and teenagers alike have to practice good dental hygiene to ensure a future of healthy teeth. Good habits start during childhood and most parents question how to teach their children good dental habits. A healthy mouth will allow children to eat nutritious foods comfortably, speak clearly, and smile confidently.
Oral health is a key component of general health and, if left untreated, oral problems such as tooth decay and gum disease can cause trouble throughout the body. Parents and caregivers have to take the lead on oral hygiene for kids. Here are some tips to help those kiddos practice good dental hygiene.
Many parents wonder when it’s time to start having kids brush their teeth. A simple answer is if you can see it, you can clean it. You can gently brush the child’s teeth (or tooth) by using a soft-bristled brush and a thin smear of fluoride toothpaste. The toothpaste should not be larger than a grain of rice. As the child ages, you can increase the amount of toothpaste. Wait until your child can understand that they need to spit out the toothpaste before increasing the amount.
Toddlers often want to assert independence and may want to brush their teeth on their own. It’s important that you, as the parent or caregiver, continue to assist with brushing. Let your child have a turn then go over it with them to make sure the teeth are properly cleaned.
Make it Fun:
It’s also recommended that children brush their teeth twice a day, just like adults. A good way to encourage your child to brush their teeth is to make it fun. Get excited about teeth-brushing. You can make it into a song and sing it twice through while your child brushes to make sure they’re brushing long enough. Try taking the song, “Row-Row-Row Your Boat” and make it into “Brush-Brush-Brush Your Teeth.” You don’t want to scare you child by sharing horror stories about dental issues but make sure they understand how important dental hygiene is.
You can also buy brushes and toothpaste with your child’s favorite cartoon characters on them to encourage dental hygiene. There are plenty of Youtube videos out there that explain dental habits in a fun and interesting way. Let your child watch videos for tips and suggestions of their own.
When your child’s teeth start touching or fitting close together, it’s time to teach about flossing. This usually happens between the ages of 6 and 10. Try to encourage your children to floss at least once a day. Floss picks are an easy way to teach kids to floss. Make sure to purchase floss picks designed specifically for children. They come in fun shapes and colors and are appropriately sized and shaped for their little mouths.
Food and Drink:
Make sure your child has healthy snack options. Don’t rely too heavily upon sugary drinks, even fruit, and sports drinks. The sugars can wear down enamel and end up doing harm in the long run.
Begin the balancing process by moving toward a 50/50 juice or sports drink to water ratio. The water will help wash out some of the sugar left over from the other drinks and help move your child’s palate away from sweet tastes. And, drinking more water is a great thing for all of us!
Encourage good choices by letting your kids get involved with buying or growing fruits and veggies and let your children help prepare them for the table.
Buy specific and healthy snacks and put them in a special drawer or box with your child’s name on it. This gives your child the autonomy they’re searching for and encourages healthy choices.
The most important thing you can do to encourage good dental hygiene practices is to lead by example. If you children see you brushing, flossing, and making regular dental appointments they won’t be so scared of the unknown.