Children do not always realize that brushing their teeth twice a day and following a regular dental routine is necessary for sustained oral health. Since their permanent teeth, or even their milk teeth, have just started to appear in their mouths, they have no idea of the importance their pearly whites will have in the years to come.
This is where you come in! As a parent it is important for you to instill good hygiene habits into your children from a young age, and dental hygiene is no exception.
The Start of your Child’s Dental Health
When your child is too young to brush their own teeth, it is up to the parent or guardian to create and enforce a dental hygiene routine. Setting a good example by cleaning your child’s gums and milk teeth with clean water and a soft cloth on a regular basis, normally after each feeding, will get your infant used having their mouth cleaned.
Once your child is around 2 or 3 years of age, they will be able to use toothpaste specific for milk teeth. At this age they should also have the coordination to be able to brush their own teeth. Put on a show and tell, advising your child on the best ways to brush their teeth and when they should brush their teeth.
How to Motivate your Child to Brush their Teeth
Now that your child knows how to brush their own teeth, how do you keep up the momentum and encourage them to continue looking after their own dental health? Some children may enjoy brushing their teeth, while others will need more encouragement. There are several ways to motivate your child, but the main component is that you make brushing their teeth a fun and enjoyable experience.
Make brushing their teeth into a game, where they compete against you or their siblings to see who can brush their teeth for the full two minutes. This exercise enforces the good habit of brushing their teeth for the recommended time of two minutes. The game could have a ‘golden star’ reward system. The first child to get to ten stars gets a prize. The prize can also be dental hygiene related, such as a nicer toothbrush or the opportunity to pick the next toothpaste flavor.
Whether it is a reward for winning the tooth brushing game or not, letting your child pick their own toothpaste and toothbrush makes a difference in the likelihood of them wanting to brush their teeth. Allowing them to choose a toothbrush that is in their favorite color or toothpaste that is in their favorite flavor can make a world of difference. Keep this in mind when getting their first toothbrush and paste, as it will help foster an initial positive response to the activity.
It really is all about adding the fun into what can be a very banal but important task. Therefore, you should try and incorporate what your child likes most into the activity. Have your child brush their teeth to their favorite song or short story. Incorporate their favorite TV characters by buying associated dental care products, or pretend the activity is part of the TV show. For example, the bad guys will win if we do not brush and floss our teeth by 7.30pm.
Always remember that a little praise goes a long way. If you see your child is trying their best to maintain their dental health, let them know that you notice their efforts and reward them. The praise will boost their self-confidence as well as make them proud of themselves and their hygiene. This attitude create a positive mindset for maintaining oral health in the future.