Good habits start when you’re young. Helping kids build good habits and realize the importance of tasks isn’t always easy for parents to achieve. Nonetheless, it can be done with enough patience, perseverance, and good old fun.
Proper oral hygiene is one of the most important parts of childhood. It’s way too easy for kids to get cavities from sugary sweets and sodas. Unlike adults, they just won’t eat anything that isn’t sweet or tasty enough for them to enjoy. Even kids who aren’t really fans of sweets can still suffer from tooth decay and plaque buildup when they forget to brush at least twice a day. Fortunately, parents can stave off serious dental woes simply by helping their kids build good oral hygiene habits at home. Here are some great tips for helping kids practice proper dental hygiene.
1. Be a Good Role Model
Both parents and teachers know just how important it is to set a good example. Adults need to be on their best behavior not only to avoid embarrassment but also to make kids understand what they need to do in order to live a good life.
Older and younger kids won’t put much effort into taking care of their teeth if they don’t see grown-ups doing it regularly. When your kids witness you practicing a great oral hygiene routine every day, they’ll be sure to follow in no time. You can also brush alongside your child to teach them effective brushing and flossing techniques, as well as make oral hygiene feel less like a chore.
One mistake I’ve seen with some parents is too much aggression. Some parents also end up grabbing their children’s wrists and forcing them to brush really hard. Yelling and punishing kids while they learn to brush won’t achieve any good results at all. In fact, it’s more likely to destroy any chance of them becoming motivated to take care of their teeth. Younger kids might associate daily brushing and flossing time with fear and end up not doing it at all.
You won’t get to enjoy being a good role model at all unless you build relationships with kids and give them a reason to admire you. Being patient and understanding even when things seem tough will always be worth it in the long run.
2. Let Them Use Unique Tools
Another way to make daily brushing fun for kids is by letting them use a fun toothbrush. Kids can enjoy brushing their teeth even more by using a toothbrush with their favorite characters and designs. You can also let younger kids use toothbrushes with fun lights and sounds to make things even more enjoyable. Some toothbrushes on the market are designed to play music while your child brushes their teeth, while others feature lights that glow with the press of a button.
Buying good toothpaste is also a great way to let kids enjoy daily brushing. Both younger and older kids will really appreciate being able to brush their teeth while tasting flavors they like, such as sweet watermelon or raspberry. You don’t have to worry about picking not-so-great varieties as many kid’s toothpastes on the market are formulated to clean and strengthen teeth without overwhelming anyone with too much mint.
3. Enjoy Fun Books and Videos
You don’t have to worry about being a walking encyclopedia for your kids. There are many E-books, online videos, and even smartphone apps that you can use to teach your kids the importance of proper oral hygiene. Your kids will really appreciate good stories that they can relate to, as well as videos and skits that can make them laugh.
One thing I wouldn’t recommend for most parents is using scare tactics. In other words, showing your kids pictures of decayed teeth and bleeding gums. This won’t really work for younger kids as their feelings of dread or anxiety will only get in the way of practicing proper habits. Positive reinforcement is always more effective in the long run, so stick to media that won’t leave your kids with nightmares.
4. Make It a Rewarding Challenge
Prizes always help kids become more motivated to do something. You can make your child’s brushing experience less tedious by giving them good rewards. Try making them do challenges, such as giving them fun toys or colorful stars when they brush while music is playing. Keep rewards small and give them out regularly so that your child has plenty of reason to brush and floss well every day.
5. Let Them Learn to Love the Dentist
Visiting the dentist is always scary for most kids in the beginning. But that shouldn’t be a reason to give up on it. You can make dental visits less scary for kids by helping them build friendly relationships with their dentist. That being said, if you do feel like your chosen dentist is a bit too aloof or impatient for your child, you can always choose to visit someone else. After all, there are still many other friendlier and well-trained pediatric dentists to choose from.
You can also ease your child’s anxieties by letting them bring their favorite toys to a check-up. You can also let them listen to soft, soothing music so that they can relax more in the dentist’s chair. Offering rewards and going to fun places after a check-up will also help your child feel less afraid of yearly dental visits.