Kids and Lifelong Dental Hygiene Practices

Kids and Lifelong Dental Hygiene Practices

Establishing healthy dental habits from a young age is vital for maintaining good lifelong dental hygiene. However, getting your little ones to brush their teeth after a long day, when all you want to do is get them in bed, can be really hard. You’re tired, they’re tired and this often can result in a full on tantrum right in the middle of the bathroom. If you’re a parent that struggles with getting your children to brush their teeth, try implementing the following tips.

Start Young

It may come as a surprise, but you should start caring for your child’s teeth before they even have teeth. When you have a baby, you should care for their gums by using a soft, damp washcloth and gently wiping down their gums after each feeding and before bed time to ensure that bacteria doesn’t cling to their little baby gums. Once they start to get teeth you can use a wet toothbrush to massage their teething gums and then graduate to a children’s toothpaste when those teeth finally come through. Make sure that you’re only using as much toothpaste as a grain of rice, because they won’t be able to spit it out yet. When you start brushing your child’s teeth from infancy, they won’t dispute it later in life because it’s become part of their routine.

Get Into A Routine

According to Vanderbilt University, ” teaching independence with self-help skills like hand washing, brushing teeth, and dressing/undressing is an important step in development that can be achieved when children are taught how to do each step in each routine. Initially, it takes an adult’s focused attention to teach children how to do these skills.” Children respond well to established routines, because they know what to expect and how to react to it. Furthermore, by consistently following through on routines, your child is gaining skills to make them independent. Find a routine that works for your family and stick with it.

Let Them Pick

Your children will be much more excited to brush their teeth every day when they get to pick out their own supplies. Make it an exciting outing, and explain that they get to pick out whatever toothbrush, floss and toothpaste that they want. Not only will this make them eager to use them later on, but it will also giving them a chance to express their individuality and self determination.

Make It Fun

Try and find a way to make brushing teeth fun for your children. This might include making up a silly song that you sing while they clean their teeth, or having your children race to see who can get their pajamas on the fastest, and whoever starts brushing their teeth first wins. Another fun idea is to have your children come and let you “inspect” their teeth after they’re clean by running to you and saying “Ding!” or “Shine!” or whatever they’d like.

Get an App

If you find that your children struggle with brushing their teeth long enough, you should consider getting a toothbrush app on your phone or tablet. They have fun apps that come with a timer to ensure that your kids are brushing their teeth for the full two minutes. Once they’re done brushing, a fun picture will be revealed, or they’ll even have access to play a game. If you don’t want to get an app, try using a two minute sand or egg timer, anything that will let them know that they’ve brushed their teeth for long enough.

Plaque Discoloring Tablets

Plaque is sticky but colorless which can make it difficult for your child to see how effectual their tooth brushing is. Buy some plaque discoloring tablets so that they can see how good of a job they’re doing at brushing their teeth. First they will brush and floss their teeth like normal, then they chew on the tablet and let it sit in their mouth for about 30 seconds. Next they can smile and see how well they did. If their mouth is full of color then make sure and teach them that they need to brush their teeth better in those areas. Your children will love having their teeth change colors, and it will allow them to clearly see the effects of diligent oral hygiene.

Reward System

Nothing motivates children more effectively than the promise of a reward or treat. Create a table or use a calendar and mark off each day that your child brushes their teeth perfectly, and make sure to include whatever stipulations you’d like. This might include, for the full two minutes, without any complaining, twice a day, etc. Once they’ve had a perfect week, month or whatever amount of time you agreed upon, reward them with a new toy, their favorite treat, or maybe a trip to the movies, you both can decide.

Be an Example

One of the best ways that you can instill the importance of proper oral hygiene into your children, is to lead by example. When your children see you brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day, they will want to emulate your good habits. It might be beneficial to brush your teeth with your children, this way they can copy your example and learn how much toothpaste to use, how long to brush, and how to floss.

Get To the Dentist

You should bring your child in for a dental check-up as early as when their first tooth appears and no later than their first birthday. Make sure to continue scheduling check-ups for you and your family every six months. This is vital to ensuring that your family has the best oral health. You would hate for your child to have a cavity go untreated and result in a root canal that they would have to manage for the rest of their life. Rest assured that we will be certain that your child has a good experience at the dentist. It can be scary to go to the dentist at first, this is why we insist on making dental appointments as fun as possible for our young patients.

By implementing these nine tips into your family’s daily schedules, you can take comfort in knowing that you’ve prepared the way for your children to have healthy oral hygiene throughout their life.

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