The foundation for healthy teeth and oral hygiene in children and teens is established in the first years of life. Inadequate diet, poor eating habits and improper brushing can result in tooth decay or cavities. Kids who learn good oral habits in their first five years continue them into adulthood. This can help prevent serious issues later on, such as permanent tooth loss, chronic bad breath and gum disease.
As consistent role models, parents are responsible for establishing a daily routine and making their children understand the importance of oral care. Since kids are sensitive to social stimuli such as praise and affection, they learn best by their parents’ encouragement.
Here are a few effective ways suggested by children dentistry which parents can teach their children the value of dental care and hygiene.
Making sure your kids understand the importance of good oral care will go a long way in maintaining healthy teeth and gums into adulthood. Below are a few tips to help educate your children about effective oral care.
1. Lead By Example
Kids learn through observation, so one of the best ways to teach them good oral hygiene is by practicing it yourself.
Experts recommend that children brush twice daily (and floss once when their teeth grow close together): one time in the morning, once before bedtime – just like adults. Watching you do the same will help instill the importance of these habits.
You can make things fun by choosing a toothbrush and toothpaste featuring your kid’s favourite fictional character. You can also put a kid step stool near the sink and encourage them to play ‘copycat’ while you brush and rinse. Even small fun games like this can provide a big opportunity for learning and development.
2. Encourage with Positive Feedback
Like any good behaviour, it’s important to encourage and appreciate good brushing practices in children. Kids love positive feedback. It doesn’t really matter what you say, as long as you say something good and encouraging. It could be as simple as “we are proud of you” or “what a great job you’re doing.” You can also try a reward system, where your child gets a sticker or other reward for their good brushing habits.
3. Be Inventive
Kids are fascinated by new and colourful technologies, so choosing toothbrushes and toothpaste with cool features can encourage them to brush their teeth. Many kids love electric toothbrushes because they feel and move more like toys. Anything that draws your child’s attention and teaches them good dental habits is worth considering.
4. Encourage Healthy Eating
One of the best gifts you can give your child is an appreciation for healthy food.
Nutritious, low-sugar foods not only prevent childhood diabetes and obesity but stave off tooth decay. Sugary drinks and snacks wear down your child’s tooth enamel, which results in decay and cavities.
As parents, you should eat healthy at home, so your children learn to do the same. Include more lean proteins, green vegetables and fresh fruits in your (and your children’s) diet. Although fruit contains sugar, it’s not as damaging as the sugar content in cakes and candies. Offer lemon or coconut water instead of sodas, soft drinks and packaged fruit juices.
Occasional treats are fine, especially after mealtime as saliva helps protect teeth. But encourage them to brush and floss right afterward.
5. Discourage Them from Chewing on Non-Food Items
Babies and toddlers love to chew and suck on anything within their reach. As they start crawling and developing teeth, they try to ease their teething pain by chewing on teething rings, toys or any other hard or soft object. Over time, this habit can break their teeth or reduce their stability. Some of them also suck their thumbs or fists, which can cause front teeth to move which develops a gap.
To protect your child’s dental alignment and oral health, discourage them from sucking and chewing on hard objects. Instead, offer them silicone teethers or teething scarves. Every time your child puts an inappropriate or damaging object in their mouth, take it away. It’s normal for children to explore their surroundings with their mouths, you want to discourage anything that can hurt their teeth.
6. Take Them for Regular Dental Visits
Biannual dental checkups are an excellent way to ensure healthy mouths and healthy children. Instilling good oral health habits in kids from an early age includes making dental appointments part of their schedule.
Brushing kids’ teeth, getting regular dental checkups, and developing healthy eating habits are the building blocks of a lifetime of great oral health. If you’re looking for effective ways to teach oral hygiene to your children, these tips should prove helpful. By giving a little time, attention and patience, you can promote great dental health practices in kids that will last a lifetime.
Aside from these regular visits, take your child to an emergency dental clinic if he/she suffers an accidental mouth injury. Whether they fell down on the playground or chewed onto something that’s too hard, proper intervention and treatment is a must. This will ease the pain or discomfort caused by the accident (if any), and also prevent any future dental problems. If your kid experiences anxiety when visiting a dentist, choose a dental clinic with trained professionals who know how to evaluate young children.