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Most parents know it’s important to teach good oral hygiene habits to their kids. Tooth decay is common in children, especially those under the age of five, which is one of the reasons we place such an emphasis on creating a routine for brushing (2 min, 2x a day) and visiting a pediatric dentist (every six months). However, knowing your little one should brush their teeth and actually accomplishing that goal are two very different things. This is why we decided to compile a list of tips that might help.
Let Them Take Ownership
Your children’s dental needs will change as they grow older, and it is important to provide the right tools at each stage of development. You can start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first one arrives, but until your child turns one, you only need to use water.
As your child starts learning to brush on his or her own, it is common to swallow the toothpaste, so it is a good idea to provide a type that is more natural and fluoride-free. Before the age of three, you should only give your child an amount of toothpaste that equals the size of a grain of rice. After the age of three, a pea-sized amount is appropriate.
As your children get a little older, take them shopping with you to pick out their toothbrush, toothpaste and floss. There are a ton of fun options to choose from in both toothbrushes, toothpaste and flossers. Allowing your little one to pick out their toothbrush and toothpaste will give them a sense of excitement and ownership for keeping their teeth clean.
Take Advantage of Smartphone Apps
There is no shortage of apps and other tools to help encourage your child to brush for the full two minutes. You can find apps that play fun brushing songs or tell a story to engage your child for the allotted time. You can also purchase toothbrushes that connect to apps for a fun interactive experience.
We also don’t want to forget about good old-fashioned books and television shows that promote brushing. Watch them with your kids and practice as you go along.
- Mya Papaya Meets the Wizard of Teeth on Amazon.com
- Sesame Street: Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me: Brushy Brush PSA https://www.sesamestreet.org/videos?vid=1433
If you make brushing a game, there is a better chance your kids will voluntarily participate. If they have a favorite stuffed animal, give your child a toothbrush to brush the animal’s teeth while you brush your child’s. If you have multiple children that are close to the same age, make brushing a light-hearted competition. See who can be the most thorough, and keep track of those who flossed.
Motivate your children to make brushing a routine by using a reward system. Make a chart and add a sticker or checkmark each morning and night after brushing is accomplished. If they have a certain number of rewards in a one- or two-week period, let them choose a fun activity such as the zoo, waterpark, aquarium, or trip to the playground.
Be a Good Example
You can tell your children that brushing every day is important, but you will have more of an impact if you demonstrate for them. Children love to mimic their parents so allowing them to watch you brush your teeth or letting them brush yours for you before you brush theirs, could make all the difference. We’ve also found that some parents have success by making ‘family-brushing time’ a regular activity, everyone piles up by the sink and brushes together.
Because sugar is one of the main causes of dental decay, it’s important to teach children about healthy eating and a well-balanced diet. Things like limiting your intake of sugar (especially gummies), making water your family’s primary drink, and scheduling regular dental cleanings for yourself as well as for your children can make a huge difference in their oral health. Contact myKIDSdds to set up your appointment today.
Ready to make your first appointment at myKIDSdds pediatric dentistry in Dallas? Give us a call or book online, today.