Preventive dentistry is the key to keeping teeth and gums healthy long into your adult years. This should involve implementing an oral hygiene early on that includes brushing your teeth morning and night, flossing everyday, and visiting the dentist for routine examinations and cleanings biannually. The same goes for your children. While some may think that baby teeth don’t matter since they will soon be replaced with permanent teeth, nothing could be further from the truth. Children are just as susceptible to tooth decay, perhaps even more so, and should maintain good oral hygiene habits. The health of their baby teeth will have a direct impact on the health of their primary teeth.
Dr. Jack Haney is passionate about providing families of all ages with a lifetime of preventive care. He is a firm believer in patient education and gives parents the tools they need to establish good oral hygiene habits in their homes. If you are having a hard time getting your children to brush their teeth, below are five helpful tips.
Set a Good Example
Have you heard the saying, “Monkey see, monkey do?” Your children are watching every move you make and you have the power to help set the pace, even in the area of oral hygiene. While they are young, make a big deal about brushing and flossing your teeth around your children. Get on their level and show them how to hold their toothbrush and brush in a circular motion.
The Sooner, the Better
As soon as the first tooth erupts, start brushing their teeth. The sooner they start, the more likely they are to continue this habit on into their adolescent years, helping them to avoid an onslaught of cavities.
Create a Routine
In addition to starting them young, set a morning and nightly routine that includes brushing their teeth. Since brushing after meals is important, the primary focus for children should be after breakfast and right before going to bed. Make sure that any last minute bedtime snacks or drinks happen before they brush their teeth. When residue is left on their teeth overnight, it can lead to quick enamel erosion.
Make it Fun
You may be wondering how oral hygiene and fun can be included in the same sentence. There are plenty of fun resources, such as TV shows, YouTube videos, or children’s books that you can show your child to teach them how to brush their teeth. Grocery stores are also filled with fun-flavored toothpastes and colorful toothbrushes with cartoon characters and superheroes. Take your child to your local store and have them pick out their very own toothbrush in either their favorite color or character. This not only teaches ownership and responsibility, but makes the process exciting and fun.
Set a Timer
Brushing doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out affair. All it takes is two minutes using the proper techniques. Keep a timer in the bathroom where your child brushes their teeth and when it’s time, set it for two minutes. This can make the process fun and will ensure they brush their teeth effectively. As an added benefit, if they make it to the two-minute marker, have a reward system set in place. Each day they brush their teeth, have them place a sticker on a calendar in their room or bathroom. At the end of the week, if they brushed their teeth they get a reward of your choosing.