Five Tips for Teaching Your Kids Better Dental Habits
Healthy teeth are important to your child’s overall health because it helps set good oral health habits as your child grows. If dental care for kids is overlooked, it can lead to infection, disease, or other teeth problems. Because children live by their parents’ example, it’s best to teach them the best habits from early on as this will help shape their behavior during future cleanings and will also affect whether or not they will stick with other good dental habits.
Here are a few strategies you can try to help teach good oral health habits.
Your toddler or child should see you brushing your teeth every morning and evening. Alter your routine so they can be present during this time. You can also find YouTube videos of children the same age as your child having a good time using a toothbrush. Kids love having a peer to relate to when they are learning a new skill.
Make it a fun habit
One easy way to encourage good dental health for kids so that it turns into a lifelong habit is to look for ways to make it enjoyable. A few easy ways to do this is:
- Finding a children’s toothpaste flavor that your child enjoys…better yet, let them choose their own toothpaste.
- Reward them for brushing and flossing and keep track of your child’s daily brushing and flossing habits. After a week of consistent brushing (for example), let them choose a board game or select their favorite meal for supper.
- Read books or watch fun YouTube videos that talk about dental hygiene.
Refrain from sugars and juice
Children under the age of three should not be drinking juice as it’s not a healthy alternative to water and can lead to tooth decay before their adult teeth start growing.
Make your child’s dental regimen a priority
Because most children aren’t too familiar with putting objects other than food into their mouths they’re most likely to become fussy as they don’t know the concept of brushing their teeth. Do not cave…make it clear that dental hygiene is not a choice because if good practices aren’t instilled early, you’ll have a much more difficult time as a parent enforcing proper habits when they’re older.
Tips on how to encourage your child if there is a struggle with them brushing their teeth
- Be patient.
- Reward your child for good oral care. Offer something healthy or simple like apple slices or a gold star.
- Don’t wait until too late in the day. Try to avoid brushing your child’s teeth right before bedtime. If its too late, they may be too tired which will cause more stress. Tip: try to do it 30 minutes after their last meal.
Dr. Elliott A. Schwartz, Pediatric Dentist at Toronto Children’s Dentist is part of the Altima Dental Family of Clinics for children’s dental needs.