Good oral habits are best established early on in life. This is why you, as a parent, should make sure that you establish these habits for your children while they’re still young. However, with some children, instilling these good oral habits might seem like a struggle. It’s not easy making your child value their dental hygiene. We have some tips for parents out there who want to teach their kids the value of caring for their teeth – so let’s dive into some of the best parenting strategies for raising kids with healthy teeth.
Have a Clear Dental Schedule
Creating a clear dental schedule for your child is the first step towards establishing good oral hygiene as a healthy routine rather than a chore.
Everyone should brush their teeth twice a day: once after they wake up and again before they go to bed. This simple routine is easy to follow, but you need to always keep an eye on these dental habits when your child first begins brushing their teeth. Sometimes, kids can skip brushing if they think nobody’s watching. Stay on top of your child’s brushing habits for the first few years until they start doing it themselves. If you allow ‘cheating’ on daily teeth cleaning, then this could lead to a laxer attitude towards oral hygiene later in life. So, it’s better to set up these good habits early.
It’s best to associate dental habits with something else that is also done daily, like taking a bath. Even before your child develops teeth, you can start instilling this habit by rubbing the infant’s gums with a clean washcloth during bath time. This way, they will develop an expectation of dental hygiene very early in their lives.
Aside from the daily routine, dentist appointments should be scheduled and consistent to ensure that your child’s dental hygiene is constantly accounted for. Your child’s first check-up at the dentist should be around the time they are 3 years of age unless you see or suspect any issues.
Lead by Example
Kids like to mimic their parents. It should go without saying then that kids also mimic their parents’ dental habits. If you’re not sticking to your own dental schedule of brushing every morning and before bed, then how can you expect your child to do the same?
Lead by example. If your child sees you taking good care of your oral hygiene, they will likely follow your lead and do the same. The same can be said for any good habit: children pick up routines from their parents, and hence you need to also be aware of how your dental habits appear to your child. Fix in yourself what you want to see in your child.
Teach Them Why
It’s easy to command a child to do something, but it’s much more effective for you to instead explain to them why it’s important. The same goes for dental hygiene.
Rather then tell your child, “brush your teeth” and let that be the only reason, explain to them why good oral hygiene is necessary. Cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss are plenty good reasons for your child to recognize the importance of brushing. Although they might not grasp these consequences now, at least make them aware of the problems that could arise if they don’t stick to their daily dental regimen.
Teach Them How
The problem most parents don’t realize with their kid’s dental hygiene is that, behind the bathroom door, they might be brushing all wrong. Be it only brushing for a few seconds, or just brushing their molars, kids try to sneakily cut corners all the time. Some kids also maybe never even had the proper way to brush explained to them.
Don’t expect to hand your child a toothbrush and that they’ll know how to brush: when they first begin brushing their teeth, show them the proper way to give their teeth a thorough clean. If you teach them right the first time, they’re less likely to take on bad dental habits throughout their youth.
With these simple oral hygiene tips, you can get your child on the path towards life-long healthy dental hygiene habits. As always, Dr. Halsema, and her team of great hygienists, are here to help with guidance and to answer any questions.