Most kids, will always choose to do the fun activity over the boring one. If the task is not fun it will be rushed through or avoided all together. This can also apply to how well children brush and take care of their teeth. This is one area kids definitely need our guidance to maintain a healthy smile.
The following are four easy ways to encourage your kids to own their smile and at the same time improve their oral health:
1) Make Brushing Fun! - Most dentists recommend brushing for a minimum of two minutes. Two minutes can feel like forever for a kid. To get your child to brush and floss properly, try making a game out it. Set a timer for two minutes and challenge your child to brush until the timer goes off, or sing twinkle twinkle star twice. Cute, fun toothbrushes are in stores everywhere. Choose one that's small enough for your child to hold comfortably by his or herself, with a small, rounded head and very soft, polished bristles. I also recommend an electric toothbrush for little ones. Makes it easier to use and makes them feel like big grown ups. Should be replaced every few months, particularly for preschoolers who tend to chew while they brush. For babies, a soft finger toothbrush, or wet washcloth are easiest to use for you and them. Some children’s toothbrushes also have lights that flash or music that plays which serves as a built-in timer. Set the timer again for two minutes for flossing. There are also fun flossers that make it easier to do the best job possible. Another tip would be to brush with your child — Stand side-by-side in front of the bathroom mirror and brush together. Have fun. Let your child mimic your brushing technique. I would also recommend the use of a plaque disclosing solution. This solution will allow you and them to see where the plaque is before brushing and what was missed after brushing. Then you can "help" them remove the last of the plaque. Once the color is gone, the plaque is too!
2) "But Why??" Explain it all to them – It’s important for kids to know "Why" they are doing things. Brushing and flossing are no different. If they are simply told to do it, it becomes a chore and they will most likely resist. If they realize it’s a good thing for them, or it is fun, they may be more likely to take the challenge on themselves. Be sure to explain the importance of brushing and flossing in simple terms kids can understand. For example: “Flossing is important because it removes cookies and food left between your teeth. Do you want tooth bugs stuck in between your teeth?” At your child’s next dental checkup, ask your dentist to show visually proper brushing and flossing techniques.
3) Monitor Sweets and Candy – It’s no secret that kids love candy and sweets. But it’s important for kids to know that eating too many sweets causes cavities. Try to keep sugary snacks limited to later in the day to ensure you child brushes away the sugar with his or her evening brushing and flossing regimen. Or if they are going to have sugar at other times make sure they at least rinse but preferably brush as well following the sweets. Also avoid fruit gummies or roll ups these are the worst types of sugar because they lodge between teeth, stick and stay . They are candy not healthy like actual fruit and they are not nutritious.
4) Give kids incentives to achieve – Set a goal with your child to get a “perfect score” the next time he or she has a dental checkup. This, of course, means your dentist finds no cavities! Establish a reward your child will earn for having a perfect checkup, such as that new video game or doll they have been wanting. Make sure they understand that brushing, flossing, and limiting sweets are all ways to reach their goal. You can even tape a photo of the reward to the bathroom mirror for daily reinforcement. Tell your dentist about the reward system, so he or she can also encourage your child at each checkup. If you are still finding cavities, diet may need to be looked at more closely, and Fluoride may need to be incorporated. Ask your dentist to advise. Remember to schedule your child’s dental examination every six months. Very important to stay on schedule and go when needed. You are laying the foundation for your child's oral health throughout life.
Ask your dentist for more tips and tricks to keep our kids teeth cavity free!
By Marielaina Perrone DDS
Henderson Family Dentist
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