As a parent, you might find yourself dreading your child’s nighttime routine. At the end of a long day, it can be frustrating to try to get them to change into pajamas, brush their teeth, floss, and pick up their toys. While it can sometimes be a battle to enforce a pattern of brushing and flossing in your younger children, it’s essential to their oral health.
You probably realize now, after many trips to the dentist, just how important your teeth are. Your children do not yet know this lesson, so it’s important to diligently teach them. Here are five things you can do to help promote your children’s oral health.
1. Start Early
Many people think that since their baby doesn’t have teeth yet, they don’t need to worry about oral health. However, even before teething, your baby’s gums are still susceptible to bacteria. After your baby takes a bottle, rub a soft, damp washcloth over the gums to wipe away any lingering bacteria. When your baby begins teething, use an infant toothbrush to brush the teeth with a tiny bit of fluoride toothpaste. You should also bring your baby to the dentist by their first birthday. Early trips to the dentist will make it less frightening for your child as they grow older.
2. Keep a Timer
Each person is supposed to brush their teeth for at least two minutes, twice a day. This can be difficult for anyone, but especially for kids. Kids can get impatient easily and only brush for a little while. Two minutes of brushing is important because it takes that long for bacteria on the teeth to break down. Using a timer, or a two-minute-long song, to ensure that your kids brush their teeth long enough can be an easy solution.
To achieve a healthy smile, you’ll need a couple of tools–like a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss. Kids and adults need the same tools, but your kids will probably want something better suited to their age. Check your local grocery store for a section of toothpaste and toothbrushes for children. These colorful toothbrushes and flavorful tubes of toothpaste will make your child more eager to take care of their teeth…especially when you let them pick it out.
4. Praise & Rewards
We understand that encouraging your child to take care of their teeth is sometimes met with adamant refusal and poor behavior. When your child does brush and floss their teeth, be sure to praise them. Children are more likely to brush and floss when they have their parent’s attention and praise. In some cases, praise won’t be enough and you may have to implement a reward system. Rewarding your children with extra playtime or other incentives can help them want to brush their teeth. If you do use rewards, try to avoid using candy as a motivator, as it is bad for their teeth.
5. Lead by Example
The best way to encourage your child to brush their teeth is for you to do it too. Having your child watch you brush your teeth allows you to demonstrate the correct way to brush and floss. Showing your child good oral hygiene will encourage them to have better hygiene too.
At Grove City Dental, we understand how difficult it can be to encourage children to brush and floss their teeth. These tips, along with biannual checkups, will help your children come to understand and appreciate their oral health.