As a parent, there’s likely nothing that’s more important to you than the health of your children. You work hard to ensure that they eat healthy, get plenty of exercise, and visit the pediatrician for regular check-ups. But what about their oral health? Often, parents overlook dental health, perhaps not fully understanding how closely it’s related to their children’s overall health. The good news is, there are several ways you can encourage your child to take care of her smile. Consider the following ways you can make dental health a priority in your home:
Use kid-friendly products. Let’s face it: brushing teeth is likely not at the top of your child’s list of favorite activities. Thankfully, there are many products on the market today designed to make teeth brushing more appealing to children. Chances are, you’ll be able to find a toothbrush depicting one of your child’s favorite cartoon characters. The fun doesn’t end there, though; there are also plenty of toothpaste options created with children in mind. Look for a fun (and tasty!) flavor, but make sure that the toothpaste contains fluoride if you have a school-aged child.
Go electric. When picking out a fun, new toothbrush for your child, consider going electric. Children aren’t always the most proficient brushers and electric toothbrushes can help ensure that the job is done more thoroughly; they typically do a much better job of getting to those hard to reach places. An added bonus: children often find electric toothbrushes fun to use, making it much more likely that they’ll brush the recommended two minutes.
Make a rewards chart. If you have a child that needs a little extra incentive to stay motivated, consider creating a rewards chart to encourage good oral health. Each time he brushes and flosses, allow him to place a sticker on his rewards chart. After a week’s worth of stickers are earned, allow him to pick out a small toy or take him out for an ice cream date.
Set a timer. One of the biggest mistakes that children–and adults–make when it comes to oral care is neglecting to brush their teeth for the recommended two minutes. To help combat this problem, consider setting a timer for your child to ensure that she brushes for a full two minutes. Or, alternatively, there are toothbrushes today that have their own built-in timers, often in the form of a flashing light.
Forego the juice. Apple juice, grape juice, orange juice–they’re all popular choices among children. While juices are okay in moderation, avoid making juice your child’s primary source of hydration. Juices are full of sugar, which increases your child’s risk of tooth decay. Additionally, many juices are highly acidic, which can lead to enamel erosion. If your child is thirsty, encourage him to sip water instead.
Lead by example. It’s no secret that children learn a vast majority of their behaviors by watching the adults in their lives. So, make sure to set a good example for your child when it comes to dental health. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily–and invite your little sidekick to brush alongside you.
Don’t instill fear. A common mistake parents make is trying to encourage good dental health in their children by making them fearful of what could happen if they don’t brush their teeth. While it’s important for children to know that neglecting their teeth can potentially lead to cavities, threatening them with scary images of drills and painful dental procedures is counterproductive; in fact, it can potentially lead to a fear of the dentist and increase the likelihood of avoiding the dentist in the future.
To learn more about ways you can help develop healthy dental habits in your children, contact us today!