Posted by Dr. Julie Boudreault On 18-01-2024
Lifelong oral health is impossible without good oral healthcare habits. The best time to learn these habits is when your child is young.
By teaching them the importance of caring for their teeth and gums (and the best way to do so), you’re setting them on the best path toward superior oral health.
1. Make brushing a fun activity
Brushing shouldn’t feel like a chore. If it does, your child is less likely to do it, especially once you stop monitoring them.
It’s crucial to help them build good oral healthcare habits early and teach them the importance of a healthy mouth. These routines will help keep their teeth and gums in top condition for the rest of their lives.
One of the best ways to ensure that your child becomes a tooth-brusher for life is to make the activity as fun as possible when they’re little. Think of creative ways to make their morning and nightly brushes entertaining, engaging, and enjoyable—and don’t forget to include flossing once per day!
How can you make brushing a fun activity? Keep reading to find out.
2. Get the whole family involved
Every parent knows that children are always watching and picking up on your habits based on what you do more than what you say. Consequently, don’t underestimate the importance of leading by example when it comes to dental hygiene.
If your child sees how you care about your oral health and takes daily steps to care for your teeth and gums, they’re more likely to follow suit. Your enthusiasm plays a huge role in helping them build positive habits.
Brushing your teeth with your child is the perfect way to share your commitment to oral health. You can show them proper brushing techniques and educate them on their teeth.
Don’t forget to make it fun, as well as educational. It should be an enjoyable parent-child activity that your child looks forward to.
3. Let your child pick their toothbrush and toothpaste
It’s important that your child develops a genuine enthusiasm for taking care of their mouth. It needs to come from them. If they only care about brushing and flossing when you’re looking over their shoulder, then they’re likely to neglect these habits later on.
Consequently, part of early childhood oral education is about empowering your child. You can do this by involving your child in decisions that affect their dental health.
We suggest letting your child pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste. This allows them to be active participants and helps get them excited about brushing. If a child loves their toothbrush, they’ll want to use it more.
However, bear in mind that your child should use a kid-sized toothbrush that’s the right size and design for their level of development. It should also be a soft-bristled toothbrush, used with a fluoride toothpaste.
4. Use a fun brushing timer app
Your child (and you, too) must brush for two minutes, twice a day. This is the optimal duration for oral health as it removes plaque buildup and lingering particles.
There are a variety of timer apps tailored to children that make oral hygiene an enjoyable and fun activity. These apps help keep your child engaged with their brushing for the full two minutes so that they don’t stop as soon as they feel a bit bored.
They use videos, music, and badges to encourage children to brush for the full two minutes.
5. Play their favourite music
Just putting on some music can transform brushing from an uninteresting chore to an enjoyable activity. This is an easy strategy that introduces fun into your child’s morning and nightly oral care routine.
All you have to do is play their favourite music, and soon, they will be dancing and brushing away.
Music is also a good way to keep track of the time. Since it’s necessary to brush for a full two minutes, play a song that is about two minutes in duration. Once the song is up, it’s time to stop brushing and start flossing.
6. Develop a reward system
Rewards are a great way to encourage children to build good habits that will last them for the rest of their lives. You can develop a reward system that most incentivizes your child to care for their teeth and gums.
For example, you can keep track of their brushing and flossing on a calendar using gold stars. If they earn two stars per day for an entire week, reward them with a game, fun outing, or something else that your child really loves.
Ultimately, you know the best strategies for motivating and rewarding your child. The reward should not, however, be something that compromises their oral health. Don’t give them a piece of candy as a reward for brushing their teeth. That’s counterproductive.
7. Make education fun with engaging videos, books, and tools
Oral health and hygiene is an extremely important subject. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to teach your child about how to best take care of their teeth and gums, as well as why it matters. The more fun you can make this education, the more likely it will stick.
There are abundant educational resources available for children. These are tailored specifically to young minds (and short attention spans), so they entertain as they educate. Books and videos are two common examples. You can also buy or make a model mouth to teach your child about their teeth and the best way to brush.
8. Play pretend as a dentist and patient
The quality of your child’s at-home oral care routine has very real consequences for their long-term health. However, their regular dental checkups are just as important. Throughout your child’s life, they should be visiting their dentist twice a year. If they have complex or ongoing oral health conditions, they may need to stop by Milltown Dental every three months.
As a result, it’s imperative that your child has positive associations with the dentist. After all, they’re less likely to stick to a consistent schedule later in life if they develop a severe fear of the dentist’s chair. You can help teach your child that the dentist is not someone they need to fear.
Playing pretend as a dentist and patient teaches them the importance of dental health, while also getting them comfortable with the idea of visiting the dentist. When it comes time for their next appointment, it won’t feel as foreign or scary.
Visit Milltown Dental for a Family Dental Clinic in Milton
Your choice in a family dentist also has a profound effect on your child’s oral health and lifelong habits. The right family dentist is gentle and compassionate.
They help educate your child with caring for their teeth, while also ensuring that they feel at ease during their appointments. This is exactly the treatment that your child receives at Milltown Dental in Milton. Our entire staff are warm, welcoming, and ready to help.