While forms of restorative and cosmetic dentistry go back many hundreds of years, the kind…
If teaching children good habits and healthy behaviors were easy, then parenting would be a snap. Fortunately, encouraging good dental health routines in your kids doesn’t have to be a chore, especially if you’re following a few basic tips on how to keep your kids engaged and even excited about brushing, flossing, and eating healthy! Your Overland Park dentist has some advice that should help.
Give your child choices. You want to make brushing something that your child looks forward to, rather than a chore, and one way to do that is to let them pick out their own toothbrush. Fortunately, it should be easy to find a toothbrush that features your kid’s favorite superhero or cartoon character, and some toothbrushes even sing! Kids love these, and studies have shown that kids are more likely to brush longer if they have a toothbrush that sings. Oftentimes, the songs even act as a timer, letting kids know how long they need to brush. The same goes for toothpaste. While you’ll need to make sure your child selects toothpaste with fluoride, there are plenty of kid-friendly flavored toothpastes on the market with the ADA seal of approval.
Sing along while you brush. Even if your child’s toothbrush doesn’t play music, you can always put some on while they brush. If you pick a song that’s about two minutes long, it can help them brush long enough. More importantly, it will help make the process more enjoyable and something that your child looks forward to. But no dancing. Dancing around with a toothbrush in your mouth is not a great idea for anyone at any age.
Pull up a chair. Some parents say that it’s difficult to get their child to stand in one place for a full two minutes. Believe us, we understand. Fortunately, standing isn’t required. If your child has trouble standing still, pull up a chair and let them take a seat while they brush. That way, they can focus on what’s important—brushing their teeth well.
Limit the sugary stuff. Brushing is incredibly important, but good lifelong oral hygiene habits start with what you put into your mouth. Kids love sugary treats, but try to get them to indulge in moderation and rinse their mouth or brush their teeth afterward to help wash away the sugar and reduce their risk of cavities. And remember, sugars aren’t just found in candy. Fruit juice and fruit leather or “roll-ups” are packed with sugar, too.
Go easy on the rewards. Many parents like to reward their child’s good behavior, and that’s not a bad idea, but remember that rewarding them with candy or sweets might be counter-productive. Try a sticker, a gold star, a coin, or some other kind of non-edible reward. You can even do a system whereby they gain stars or points that they can trade in for a toy or something else they want.
Start early. How early should you start letting your kids take responsibility for their own brushing and flossing? Most kids between the ages of three and six can handle some of their own oral care with a little adult supervision. By age six, they’re probably ready to brush on their own, though they may still need help with flossing. More importantly, they learn by watching you. If they see you engaging in good oral-care habits, they’ll be more likely to do the same.
Of course, another aspect of good dental hygiene is making regular visits to your Overland Park dentist! To schedule your child’s next (or first!) dental visit, call Watts Family Dental at (913) 338-3384!