When it comes to pediatric dental care, the goal is always to help find easy ways to create habits that will bring children a lifetime of good oral health. Indeed, instructing kids on good brushing habits can be a challenge, but with the right support in your corner it can be a breeze.
Youngsters in the process of learning about daily routines and hygiene always need a little prodding to stay on top of good habits – heck, most adults do, too! As parents, it is our responsibility to assist them in transitioning from completely dependent entities into capable, confident little adults.
As we all know, some lessons are easier to teach than others, and many of them – like the importance of brushing teeth – seem like they fall on completely deaf ears. Applying a few easy tactics enables the routine of teeth brushing to be fun for your kids, while teaching them optimum habits that will, hopefully, yield a lifetime of healthy gums and teeth.
Consider these dental tips for kids:
1. Get the Kids Involved From the Beginning
The time has arrived. You find yourself needing to transition your child from having his or her teeth brushed by you, the parent, to brushing on their own. Here’s the best tip we can give in this situation: Let your child be a part of the process. Bring him or her with you to the store so that he or she can choose their own toothbrush and toothpaste…right down to even choosing the characters on the packaging. What will this do? It will reinforce the rule that brushing is “here to stay” while also providing your child a chance to make a few independent choices.
2. Set a Timer
A great way to communicate with young children – because they more often than not are difficult to reason or negotiate with – timers allow you to set a frame of, say, 20 seconds when teaching your child to brush, encouraging him or her to constantly brush teeth until the timer goes off. You can gradually increase the time they spend brushing until they can successfully brush for two whole minutes – the brushing time frame recommended by the American Dental Association.
3. Brush to the Beat
Of course, we understand that two minutes seems like a veritable lifetime to a child, so try letting him or her choose a favorite song to play in the bathroom. He or she could choose something different each day of the week while attempting to brush along to the music; we can tell you from experience that preschoolers in particular love to hear the rhythm of the toothbrush as they bop along to some tunes.
4. Follow the Leader
As adults, we too sometimes need to get our own habits “in check,” so this can be beneficial when talking about helping our kids in that we can brush right alongside them. You can set the tone by brushing, while your child looks to you for cues and practical tips such as how to hold the brush itself. You will then be engaged in “follow the leader” as you take turns leading the other in the brushing process, whether you begin with the top row of teeth first, the bottom row first or the sides. In your quest to become the best parent in the world, don’t forget to give your kids a chance to be leader too!
Beyond these pediatric dental tips, also keep in mind that it’s not always about “doing the right thing” when forming good habits in kids dental care – sometimes, the most formidable barrier comes in the form of simply remembering to do something on a daily basis. Thus, this is where the use of incentives comes into play.
Take time to create rewards as your child is learning to brush his or her teeth, as this will aid the whole process as it goes on. For example – when he or she remembers to brush his or her teeth without being instructed to do so, or if they have met a new milestone such as brushing for two minutes, give him or her a point or a gold star sticker. Then, once he or she accumulates a few points, these points can be traded in for a small prize. What’s most vital here is to remember to work with your child by creating a chart highlighting daily responsibilities, reminding him or her to check the chart on a daily basis; if your child is still too young to read, the usage of basic pictures is ideal to describe each kids dental care task on the list.
The Importance of Childhood Oral Hygiene
Strong, healthy teeth help kids chew the right foods that help them grow, speak clearly and ultimately look their best. It’s really no secret that the building block for healthy permanent teeth in children and even teenagers is cemented during the first years of life. As we touched on previously, poor diet, bad habits with regard to food intake and inadequate brushing routines during the first two years of our lives have been shown in several studies to be related to tooth decay in children. Further, the development of caries in primary teeth additionally increases the risk of developing caries in permanent teeth.
We’re going to be as candid as we can here: It is essential to establish a proper oral hygiene regiment early in your child’s life to help ensure development of strong and healthy teeth. As consistent role models, parents are the key to setting a daily routine and for making their children understand the importance of oral hygiene. The brushing of one’s teeth should ideally be presented as a HABIT and an integral part of the daily hygiene routine, and being that children are very sensitive to social stimuli such as praise and affection – and also learn by imitating their parents – it must be understood that physiological and mental development affects oral care in the pediatric sector.
Have your kids learn to brush their teeth properly twice a day, and they will undoubtedly be proud of their shiny smile.