How to Teach Kids Good Oral Health Habits Blog
Parents know the importance of oral health, but passing that knowledge along to your kids can be difficult. Fortunately, there are ways to teach children how to brush, floss, and take care of their dental health.
At Smiles-R-Us Family Dental, we have the expertise to help parents inspire their kids to master good oral health habits that last a lifetime.
When is the Best Time to Start Teaching Kids Oral Health Habits?
A great time to begin attending to a child’s oral health is when they are an infant. After a baby is done eating, use a moist washcloth to wipe their gums down. It may not be directly teaching them, but it is establishing a foundation and getting you into a routine to make the process easier as they grow.
Once their first tooth fully erupts, start brushing with an infant toothbrush and a tiny bit of toothpaste twice a day. This will help them understand the idea that teeth have to be taken care of daily and associate it with a routine.
It doesn’t stop with parental dental care, however. Taking kids to see the dentist before the age of one is a good idea. This will familiarize them with having someone look in their mouth as well as the look and feel of the dentist’s office and dentist during checkups.
Show Kids How to Brush & Explain the Process
Below are a few reasons why you may have been recommended for a crown:
Use a combination of learning styles to teach kids proper brushing. For example, have them look in the mirror to watch you brush your teeth as you verbally explain step by step what you are doing. If you are brushing in gentle circles along the gum line, say it out loud – then, let them try it for themselves.
For children that prefer reading and writing, there are many free worksheets that focus on dental health, and are also a lot of fun for kids.
Don’t forget that children are naturally curious. Directly tell them why brushing and flossing are important in the first place. Explain in simple terms how teeth need to be strong and healthy so they can eat their favorite foods without pain or sensitivity.
Lead Kids With Your Oral Health Habits
It’s easy for parents to forget, but your child is your biggest fan. They love copying you; they want to talk and walk like you, and they will brush their teeth the same way you do as well. If you aren’t flossing or brushing twice a day, rest assured that your children will notice it. In other words, the ‘do as I say, not as I do,’ approach is not recommended.
Brush your teeth along with kids. You may find that you have to make a few adjustments to your own brushing schedule and habits, but brushing your teeth with your kids until they are at the age you trust them to do it properly will be worth it.
Make Oral Health Habits More Kid-Friendly
Oral health is a lot more fun when it’s customized for kids. While you may get excited at the latest charcoal flavored toothpaste or sleekly designed toothbrush, kids are likely bored by those kinds of things.
Buying kid-themed toothbrushes in fun shapes and yummy toothpaste flavors can help kids get excited about their oral health.
Reward Kids for Brushing and Flossing Consistently
Children love being rewarded for doing well and creating a reward system for oral hygiene is a great way to instill great oral habits in your kids.
A reward chart is a quick and easy way to make sure your kids brush their teeth and feel good about doing it. Purchase stickers your child will go crazy for, be that gold stars or goldfish, and inexpensive ‘prizes’ that can easily be stored in a drawer or basket.
Use a large piece of paper to create the chart and hang it in the bathroom. Each time your child finishes brushing, flossing, using mouthwash and any other habit you want to track, let your kid add a sticker. After reaching the goal that you’ve set for them (keep the math easy with 5, 10 or 15 stars), let them choose a prize.
Play Music While Kids Brush Their Teeth
Making brushing and flossing time fun will provide your kids with another reason to keep up with their oral health.
Play a two-minute song while they clean their teeth. They can bounce around the bathroom and learn the appropriate amount of time to brush.
Encourage Smart Food Choices as a Lifelong Oral Health Habit
Eating right is a crucial habit for kids’ dental health, and it starts before they ever pick up a toothbrush.
Being mindful about what babies and toddlers snack on and keeping regular eating schedules will protect highly susceptible baby teeth from developing cavities.
Parents who serve fresh fruits and vegetables and reduce the amount of starchy, processed, sugary foods and drinks encourage strong and healthy growth in their kids. This oral health habit goes a long way in reducing the risk of your child having long-term oral health issues, including tooth deterioration.
By being a good role model and starting early, you can establish and inspire healthy eating habits in your child.
Make Going to the Dentist a Family Event
It’s easy to overlook going to the dentist as an important oral habit, but it is one of the most important. Maintaining regular dentist appointments will normalize the event, instead of making it something to avoid or get anxious about.
When you go to the dentist as a family, kids will not feel alone and may experience less anxiety. Schedule the entire family’s checkups together and have a meal at your child’s favorite restaurant or do a fun activity after your appointment, this will create positive associations with the process and keep their smile healthy at the same time.