Prioritize your kids’ oral hygiene from day one.
As a parent, you know that smart, healthy habits start at home. Side by side, you can help your little ones establish routines that will give them a solid foundation for the rest of their lives.
This applies to almost every facet of their growth, including their oral hygiene routine.
Today, we’re sharing 10 ways you can help your children embrace and appreciate dental care so they can take great care of their teeth and gums for years to come!
1. Start early.
Did you know that pediatric dentists recommend bringing your child in for their first dental visit by their first birthday or within six months after their first tooth erupts? Those pint-sized chompers are more important than you might think! Early visits can help your dentist understand your child’s mouth and notice any issues at the onset. This is a great way to start them off on the right foot and create a habit that will last a lifetime.
2. Brush their teeth and gums.
When they’re really little, you can help your children brush their teeth with a child’s size toothbrush, using a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste. As they grow, their toothbrush and amount of toothpaste needed will grow progressively bigger, but you should start with a dot the size of a grain of rice at first! Brush their teeth gently twice a day, in the morning and night, and explain what you’re doing as you go.
3. Make it fun.
It’s no secret that children can be wiggly! If they’re having a difficult time brushing for the recommended two minutes, there are plenty of ways to make it fun! Check out a YouTube video like this one, which makes tooth-brushing fun with a kid-friendly, interactive song that lasts exactly — you guessed it — two minutes! There are also exciting tooth-brushing apps, including a Disney timer, so search on your phone for the one your child likes the best.
4. Let them choose.
They’re only young once, and a princess toothbrush works just as well as a solid-colored one. The same goes for toothbrushes covered in pirates and superheroes! Whether you’re at the dentist or the drugstore, go ahead and let them choose the most fun toothbrush in the box. This is an easy and simple way to get them excited about brushing. They’ll look forward to it even more when their favorite characters are included!
5. Lead by example.
You already know the power of your parental influence. Whether you want them to or not, your little ones are watching your every move. Knowing this, be sure to practice great oral hygiene yourself and let them see you do it! Watching you brush, floss, and rinse will do more than teach them the proper techniques. It will also encourage them to follow in your footsteps as they get older.
6. Make it easy and accessible.
Is your child having a difficult time reaching the tall bathroom sink? They’re unlikely to stick with the habit if accessibility is an issue. You can find step stools for a few dollars, and they can make a major difference! While you’re at it, go ahead and make sure all of their other accessories are within reach. Move their toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss down to their level so they can easily access them.
7. Get siblings involved.
Your example matters greatly, but sometimes children are more apt to mimic older siblings or friends their own age. Encourage any other children in the house to maintain good dental habits and talk about what they’re doing so your littlest children can hear. This is a great way to reinforce good habits, and it allows everyone in your family to pitch in!
8. Look for teachable moments.
Sometimes the most powerful dental lessons aren’t anticipated. Take advantage of any opportunity to talk to your child about how their teeth and gums work, why they’re so important, and how they can take great care of them.
For instance, are they wondering why they can’t eat all of their Halloween candy at once? Remind them that in addition to hurting their belly, excess sugar can also lead to cavities. As they get older, these topics will turn into conversations on why they lose their teeth, how braces work, and other age-appropriate issues.
9. Reward good behavior.
Did your child remember to brush and floss twice a day for the entire month? If so, reward them with a treat that corresponds with this great new habit. Instead of offering them candy, let them choose their next toothbrush or let them pick the flick for family movie night!
You can set goals and track their progress to help them stay on course. Keep the goals simple and attainable and recognize their effort and good behavior. As you do, you’ll help set the precedent for continued success!
10. Choose a pediatric dentist.
Pediatric dentist offices are specially designed to make your child’s visit fun, interactive, and engaging. They’re often decked out in vibrant colors, with staff members who are trained to approach each patient in a gentle and reassuring way.
At our facility, you’ll find state-of-the-art dental technology alongside large LED televisions, collectible statues, touchscreen tablets with interactive video games, and much more. Our team seeks to make every child feel special so they’ll want to return again and again!
Great oral hygiene starts today.
Your child’s oral hygiene is a journey, and the first step starts with you. By following these 10 steps listed above, you can help establish healthy habits that will last them for the rest of their lives.
Choosing the right pediatric dental team is one of the most important parts of this process. We invite you to learn more about what makes our team special and how we can serve your family. Contact us today to ask any questions and schedule an appointment!