Taking care of your child’s oral care is important from a very early age. Starting good oral hygiene practices with your child as soon as their baby teeth come in will help prevent dental problems like gum disease, tooth decay, and cavities later in life.
However, as all parents know, trying to teach a young child good habits of any kind and getting them to pay attention for more than 30 seconds at a time is much easier said than done. That’s why the pediatric dental experts at Ellerslie 66 Dental are here to give you some tips that can help make tooth brushing and flossing fun and easy for you and your child.
Show Them How
Before letting your child be involved in the process of brushing and flossing, take the time to show them how you do it yourself. Since you should be brushing your own teeth twice a day for two minutes anyway, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to show your children how you take care of your own pearly whites.
Sit together in front of the mirror and let them get a good look in your mouth to see how you reach every surface of your teeth, gums, and tongue. Make sure to emphasize that it’s important to spit the excess toothpaste out and rinse afterward. Then take the time to show them how you wrap the floss around your fingers and get into the spaces between all of your teeth.
Showing your child how you do this on yourself can not only give them a visual aid for what they should be doing, but it can also help relieve anxiety by showing them that if mommy or daddy can do it there’s nothing to be worried about.
Let Them Practice on You
One you’ve shown them how you brush and floss on yourself, give your child the chance to practice on you. Let them brush and even practice flossing on a few of your teeth. Even if they don’t get it right the first time, you have the ability to go back and do it yourself again later!
Giving them the chance to practice on you lets your child feel like you are their equal in the process, rather than just the person telling them what they have to do. If it’s important for you to take care of your teeth, it must be important for them as well!
Let Them Try On Their Own (Supervised)
Once your child has had an opportunity to watch and practice on you, give them some independence and let them try brushing and flossing their own teeth. Give them the freedom to put their own pea size amount of children’s fluoride toothpaste on their brush, wrap the floss around their fingers, and do the work themselves.
Allowing them to brush and floss on their own while you guide them can give them a feeling of responsibility and being in control.
Let Them Choose
One of the easiest ways to help your child feel in control of their own oral health is to simply let them pick their own toothbrush and toothpaste flavor.
Next time you’re at the store, let them make the choice. Since they won’t necessarily know the difference between a child’s brush or toothpaste and a grownup’s, you can narrow it down for them, and give them some options to choose from.
If they don’t end up liking the flavors they choose, try something else the next time, or have a couple different options in the house to give them variety.
Brush to music
From Raffi, to Sesame Street and the Wiggles, there are several children’s musicians who have written songs about brushing teeth. Putting on one of these songs from their favorite characters can make brushing teeth a fun game, rather than a tedious activity. In addition, most of these songs are conveniently about 2 minutes long, so your child will get in the habit of knowing the proper amount of brushing time.
Give Them Rewards
Incentivising your children to brush and floss regularly by giving them rewards is another way to make oral care fun and help your child feel like they are doing something important. This could be something as simple as giving them a sticker or putting coins in a jar to save for a fun prize.
To reward different levels of completion you could give a gold star or a quarter if they brush for the whole two minutes and floss, and maybe a silver star or a dime if they brush and floss, but don’t fully complete the process.
Last but not least, be patient! The process of getting your children to practice good brushing and flossing habits will take time and there will be bumps along the way. However, if your children see you get frustrated, they’ll get frustrated and lose interest as well.
Be there to answer their questions, and help them when they need it.
And if you ever have questions yourself, or would like to schedule your child for their regular dental checkup and teeth cleaning, the team at Ellerslie 66 Dental is here for you. Feel free to contact us or call us at (780) 705-9866 and we’ll be happy to help!