Instilling healthy habits in your kids starts at a young age. From the moment your child gets their first tooth, it’s important to teach them how to take care of their mouth to prevent cavities, gum disease, and other problems that could follow them for life. Here are six ways to help your children develop healthy dental habits.
Six Ways to Help Your Children Develop Healthy Dental Habits
1.Do as I say… AND as I do
Children learn by example, which is why it’s important to show them how much you value your dental health. Kids want to be just like their parents, so if they see you brushing and flossing each day they’ll want to join in too! This will help your children develop healthy dental habits that they will benefit from for years to come. In the beginning, try letting your children help you with brushing your teeth like you help them. This fun role reversal will show them that not only do we all need a little help sometimes, but also that having clean teeth is important for people of all ages.
2.Give them choices
There are many fun dental products on the market for children that will make them really enjoy the brushing and flossing process. Let them pick a toothbrush with their favorite movie character on it or a toothpaste flavor they’d love to try. On that note, Colgate warns against children using adult toothpaste, saying “children’s mouths are much more sensitive than adult mouths. The toothpaste that leaves you with a clean, tingling sensation can feel as if it is burning to a little one.”
3.Incorporate a story or game
Children respond well to games and make-believe. If you’re having a tough time getting your child to want to take care of their teeth each day, try making it into a fun story. Everyday Health gives this example: “If you’re creative, you can make up a story that incorporates mythical characters like the knight (the toothbrush) and the goblins (plaque) in an epic struggle in the dragon’s cave (their mouth). They have to keep their mouth open so you can see what’s going on with the characters in your story.”
4.Offer an incentive
Sometimes kiddos need a little incentive to get them to begin developing new habits. To start, try giving your child a gold star every time they brush their teeth. Pick a number of stars they have to receive before they get a reward. For example, they have to brush twice a day for 7 days, getting 14 stars, before they can get a reward of your choosing. Incorporating a reward system gives the child something to look forward to as they begin new healthy dental habits.
Your child might have a favorite song or two that they know all the words to. If your child struggles with brushing for the full two minutes, pick their favorite song to jam out to with them while they brush their teeth – just make sure it’s a two minute song! Singing along to a different song during the morning and before bed is a fun way to bond with your children. This is especially so while getting them to do something important for their health at the same time.
6.Teach them healthy nutrition
Kids love sweet treats and drinks, but they might not know what the sugar can do to their teeth. It’s important to gently remind your children about what sugar can do to their teeth if they’re not brushing properly. Don’t scare them, but remind them throughout the day of healthy choices they can make that will help keep the cavities far, far away!
Your children will quickly learn the importance of having healthy teeth once you show them the way. Good dental hygiene begins with baby teeth, and the way they take care of their teeth now could affect them way into adulthood. If you find they’ve been resisting you thus far, try incorporating these six tips. You’ll find what works best for you and your family, and that’s all that matters.
BONUS tip: see the dentist!
Your child should see the dentist as soon as they develop their first tooth or have their first birthday, whichever is sooner. When children begin seeing the dentist early on it will help ensure their teeth are developing properly, help them maintain optimal oral health, and make them less scared of the dentist as they get older.
Make an Appointment
Dr. Niles and the team at Niles Family Dentistry are committed to your family’s dental health no matter the age. If your child is due for their dentist appointment, call us today at (720)-744-0001. Dr. Niles cares about your overall wellness and your children too. Conveniently located in downtown Niwot, come see us!