Inside:  Consistency and patience are key when teaching children good oral hygiene habits. By making dental care enjoyable, educating them about its importance, and being a positive role model, you can encourage children to take care of their teeth and establish lifelong habits for a healthy smile.

According to a recent study, child tooth decay is on the rise, with many parents admitting that their children do not brush their teeth twice a day. However, as dental health is so closely linked with our overall health, it’s important that we work to resolve this issue sooner rather than later.  When we encourage children to take care of their teeth it becomes an essential part of their overall oral hygiene. 

After all, improved dental hygiene is often linked to: 

  • Heightened confidence and self-esteem
  • Improved immunity 
  • Reduced chances of dealing with tooth decay and other dental conditions.
Young blond girl brushing her teeth

jennyfriedrichs @ Pixabay

 With that in mind, here are some simple ways in which you can teach your children to take care of your teeth.

Start Early

Begin teaching your child about oral hygiene as soon as their first tooth appears. Use a soft-bristled brush and water to gently clean their teeth. As more teeth erupt, introduce a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste (for children under 3 years old) or a pea-sized amount (for children 3 years and older).

Try Out Some Science Experiments

One of the easiest ways to encourage children to take better care of their teeth is by helping them learn more about why it is so important. Fortunately, science experiments related to teeth are a great way to make this information more accessible and easy to understand.

For example, if they are big fans of soda or fizzy drinks, you could show them the dangers of consuming these beverages and not brushing afterwards by trying out the ‘tooth’ in a can of fizzy drink experiment. This simply involves placing an old tooth in a fizzy drink for a few days, and seeing how it looks after the fact. In most cases, it will quickly become discolored – showing them what could happen to their teeth if they don’t care for them correctly. You could also use this as an opportunity to teach them about the science behind teeth whitening.

After you’ve had fun experimenting, explain to your child why it is important to take care of their teeth. Use age-appropriate language to teach them about cavities, gum disease, and the benefits of good oral health, such as having a beautiful smile, fresh breath, and healthy teeth for eating.

Cartoon of dangers of tooth decay.

6493990 @ Pixabay

Lead by example

One of the easiest ways to encourage your children to take care of their teeth is leading by example and maintaining a consistent dental hygiene routine yourself. After all, “children are highly impressionable, and are seeking out role models whose actions they will adopt and mirror.” Children often mimic the behavior of their parents and caregivers. Show them that you prioritize dental hygiene by brushing and flossing your teeth regularly and maintaining good oral health habits. Let them see that it’s a normal and important part of a daily routine.   Bring up dental hygiene in conversation and remind them to brush their teeth, or brush yours with them! You should also schedule regular dental appointments for the entire family. 

Family brushing teeth together cartoon

La_Petite_Femme @ Pixabay

Make brushing fun

One of the biggest reasons why children may avoid brushing their teeth is that they view it as a chore rather than something that’s fun. Thankfully, there are many different ways in which you can tackle this issue, while still making it clear that brushing is an important task they must do twice daily. For example, you could: 

  • Let them pick their own toothbrush or toothpaste
  • Play their favorite songs when brushing (choosing songs that are at least 2 minutes)
  • Reward them when they practice good dental hygiene
  • Use colorful toothbrushes with their favorite cartoon characters
  • Consider using flavored toothpaste

Encourage children to take care of their teeth by turning it into an enjoyable activity. The more ‘fun’ you make taking care of their smile, the easier it will be for your child to develop healthy habits. Furthermore, you should also make sure that it helps to destigmatize dental visits. If your child thinks going to the dentist is something to worry about, they’re more likely to kick up a fuss during routine appointments or try to avoid going altogether. However, when they understand that going to the dentist is no big deal, the entire process becomes much less scary! 

Set a routine

Establish a consistent dental care routine. Encourage your child to brush their teeth at least twice a day, in the morning and before bedtime. Make sure they also understand the importance of flossing daily, especially as they get older and their teeth start to touch.

Monitor and assist

Children may not have the dexterity or attention span to brush their teeth effectively until around the age of 6 or 7. Until then, supervise their brushing sessions and help them reach all areas of their mouth. Offer gentle reminders and praise their efforts.

Limit sugary snacks and drinks

Teach your child about the harmful effects of sugary foods and beverages on their teeth. Encourage a balanced diet with less sugar and limit their intake of sugary snacks and drinks, especially between meals.

Regular dental check-ups

Schedule regular dental check-ups for your child. These visits help identify any dental issues early on and reinforce the importance of dental care. The dentist can also provide additional advice and guidance to your child.

 

A child getting a dental checkup

jarmoluk@ Pixabay

Remember, consistency and patience are key when teaching children good oral hygiene habits. By making dental care enjoyable, educating them about its importance, and being a positive role model, you can encourage your child to take care of their teeth and establish lifelong habits for a healthy smile.

 

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