Preventative dental care is essential to help children build good dental habits at a young age.
Fortunately, the most important elements of dental hygiene are as simple as brushing and flossing your child’s teeth every day. For many parents, this is easier said than done. Most young children are uncomfortable with having their teeth brushed, and even those old enough to brush on their own may resist the routine. However, with patience, time and creativity, you can help your child establish good dental habits to keep their smile bright and shining for for many years to come.
Step 1: Make it Fun!
Have your child pick an electric toothbrush with their favorite cartoon characters. These are made specifically for small, developing mouths and seem more like toys than tools for oral hygiene to a small child.
Pick out several toothpaste flavors to try at home. While pediatric dentists agree toothpaste is not always necessary for toddlers, children may be more cooperative if they like the flavor. Popular flavors include bubble gum, strawberry and sparkle mint.
Step 2: Set a Schedule
Set alarms on a phone or alarm clock to remind your child when it’s time to brush. Consistency is key when establishing habits. Eventually, your child will come to associate brushing their teeth with certain activities, such as getting ready for bed or finishing breakfast.
Step 3: Make Two Minutes Fly By
Brushing teeth should take two full minutes – that’s right: 120 seconds. Our dentists recommend using a favorite song or a stopwatch to help little ones keep track of the time.
Apps such as Disney Magic Timer and Tooth Savers turn toothbrushing into a game. The Disney Magic Timer rewards kids for brushing longer. Tooth Savers is a fantasy adventure that progresses with each successful toothbrushing session.
Step 4: Don’t Wait until Late at Night
Help your child brush his or her teeth sooner in the evening rather than later. At the end of a long, tiring day, your child may not feel like brushing his or her teeth before bed. This will ensure they are awake and alert enough to notice the routine. It will also prevent them from falling asleep before they brush.
Step 5: Model Good Habits
Synchronize your schedule with your child’s and brush together. Instilling good dental hygiene habits starts with your own routine. When they see you doing it, they’ll be more receptive to trying it themselves.
You can use this time to demonstrate proper techniques. Show your child how to use short, gentle strokes to clean their teeth. Our dentists recommend brushing at a 45-degree angle to target the space between the teeth and gums – this is where germs and bacteria like to hide. Don’t forget to brush your tongue, as well!
Book your child’s appointment today and speak with a dentist at our office for personalized recommendations.