9 Sneaky Ways to Teach Kids About Dental Care
There are many ways to help your children develop good dental habits and maintain a lifetime of healthy, happy smiles. The one problem is that kids are experts when it comes to resisting all hygiene practices. If you are a first-time parent struggling to teach good dental care habits for kids, the following tips and tricks should help.
- Beat Your Own Dental Fears
Almost 70 percent of adults in the United States experience feelings of fear and anxiety when visiting the dentist. Unfortunately, if you are one of the many parents with dentophobia or dental anxiety, your child could develop the same aversions toward dental appointments, according to a 2012 study published in the International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry.
The study’s researchers concluded that dentophobia among children often develops as a result of their parents’ behavior during dental check-ups. In particular, how the father responds to dental visits may affect how the child and mother view their own trips to the dentist.
Children live by their parents’ example. Therefore, remaining calm and collected at the dentist’s office, especially in front of your kids, is a significant factor to how they will behave during their future appointments.
- Show Your Little Ones How It’s Done
One of the most effective ways to teach kids good oral hygiene habits is by your own example. After all, you are the role model. Your toddlers (as young as two years old) should see you brush your pearly whites every morning and evening. If you brush before they wake up or after they go to bed, change your oral care schedule to whenever they are present. Aside from demonstrating how to brush teeth properly, you can even let your toddler help brush your teeth.
- Sneak in the Importance of Dental Care During Story Time
Kids love stories! If you are creative, you can make up a story that includes mythical creatures or fairy tale characters. For example, the knight (the toothbrush) and his army (the toothpaste) are in an ongoing battle to defend the kingdom (the mouth) against ogres (plaque). Your child is the king or queen in this epic tale. They must keep their mouth clean and healthy, or else the scary ogres will destroy everything and take over the kingdom.
- Let Them See the Bacteria
Visuals are a parent’s best friend when it comes to encouraging children to brush their teeth and practice other good oral hygiene habits.
Use a plaque disclosing product to reveal areas of buildup your children may have missed. You should consider joining in on the fun and educational activity as well, as your participation helps pinpoint that everybody — including adults — can miss a spot sometimes. Just remind your kids that brushing more aggressively is not the solution. Tell them the importance of brushing gently using circular motions on all chewing surfaces and along the gum line.
In addition, keep in mind that there are consequences to having a dirty tongue. Instruct your kids on how to clean the tongue using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Then, follow up with proper flossing techniques to remove any plaque hiding in between teeth.
- Seek the Help of a New Friend
If your kids are too young to do a good job of brushing and flossing their teeth, and if they are refusing your help to boot, then that’s completely okay. You can always introduce a new friend to help perform the task. Moms and dads, get ready to make a sock puppet. Decorate it to look like your children’s favorite cartoon character, but with the clothes and equipment of a dentist. For example, make your sock puppet look like Bugs, the Bunny Dentist. Then, using your best Bugs Bunny impression, teach your kids how to brush and floss correctly. Your sock puppet can also accompany you and your children to their first real dentist appointment to make the experience less terrifying.
- Start a Reward System
Rewarding your children is another way to motivate them to develop a healthy oral care routine. You can reward your little prince or princess with stickers, a trip to the playground, or something as simple as praise for accomplishments like brushing everyday for a full week, remembering to brush their tongue, or flossing by themselves. However, keep in mind that these reward systems usually only work on younger kids.
- Let Them Take Over
At some point, you need to let your children care for their teeth and gums without your help. Around ages 5 and 6, most children have enough dexterity and motor control to brush and floss properly. However, the American Dental Association recommends supervising and reminding them to brush and floss until the age of 7 or 8.
- Go Electric
An excellent way to encourage your children to practice good oral hygiene habits is by swapping out their manual toothbrush and regular dental floss for electric ones. Going high-tech makes brushing and flossing much faster, easier, and more fun while being gentle on delicate teeth and gums.
- Introduce Them to a Superhero
From preventing cavities to correcting dental hygiene mistakes, there are many reasons to see a dentist in Chandler, AZ regularly. For kids and adults alike, making dental check-ups a regular affair is one of the best ways to develop good oral health habits. So, visit a local family dentist — also known as your friendly cavity-fighting superhero — every six months to ensure healthy, happy smiles for the whole family.
Healthy Mouths, Happy Kids and Parents
Tooth brushing, flossing, and getting routine dental check-ups are the building blocks of good dental health. By following our tips and investing a little time and attention, your kids will have healthy, beautiful teeth for a lifetime.
Do you need additional help keeping your child’s mouth healthy? Call our office at 480-705-9005 to schedule a consultation and learn more about gentle dentistry and dental care for children. Kyrene Family Dentistry specializes in childhood dental care, and we are here to help your entire family prevent dental problems.