Establishing regular hygiene habits from a young age is key to prolonging oral health into adulthood and eventually old age. However, many parents will know the difficulty of getting the kids to brush or floss twice a day. You may feel it’s okay for your child to skip brushing their teeth now and then, but it can significantly affect their teeth’ development and health.
Encouraging dental hygiene in children should be the main priority for parents as they are especially prone to tooth diseases and decay. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that one of the most common chronic diseases in children aged 6 to 19 is tooth decay. In addition, your child may have difficulty eating and speaking and experience pain.
We know that getting kids to look after their teeth can be a daily battle, so we’ve put together a few ways to make the process fun for everyone.
Set an example
Children follow by example, so it’s important that, as a parent, you are also incorporating good oral hygiene habits. Consider scheduling your brushing and flossing at the same time to make it a fun activity, or pretend to mirror each other. This is also a great way to teach your child to brush and floss on their own.
Start oral hygiene early
Incorporating oral hygiene at an early age will help your child adjust to the feeling and routine more quickly. In fact, you can begin hygiene in infancy before your child has their first tooth. First, wipe down their gums with a soft, damp cloth until their teeth come in. Then you can switch to a toothbrush.
Make it fun
There are plenty of ways to make oral hygiene a fun and exciting activity for your little one, including:
- Using a timer – Turn tooth brushing into a game by brushing with a timer set for 2 minutes.
- Incorporating music and singing – Let your child pick out a song and sing together while brushing your teeth. The result should be heaps of laughter and sparkling teeth.
- Hearing from the tooth fairy – Have the tooth fairy leave a note for your child under their pillow about the importance of oral hygiene and not wanting unbrushed teeth. This will encourage your child to brush their teeth more regularly in hopes of receiving a reward from the tooth fairy.
- Practice outside of the bathroom – Teach your child the importance of brushing your teeth using a stuffed animal or a DIY painted face. Show them the different techniques while explaining the benefits of having healthy and clean teeth.
Give them options
It’s important to let your child know that although oral hygiene is non-negotiable, they still have a choice regarding how they choose to clean their teeth. Allow your child to pick out their toothbrush and toothpaste (ensuring that they are child-friendly) to make oral hygiene more fun. This will allow them to feel that they have some agency and will make them more likely to practice their oral hygiene.
Use the right tools
Using the correct hygiene tools is just as crucial as practising hygiene, especially at a young age. Ensure your child has a toddler- or child-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste to avoid any tooth sensitivity and further damage. Electric toothbrushes are ideal for children as they can help remove build-up that a regular toothbrush cannot. In addition, small children don’t have the appropriate fine motor skills to brush properly, so an electric toothbrush can help rectify this while they are still developing.
Incorporating different methods is key to ensuring that your child develops proper oral hygiene habits. However, if you continue to experience difficulty with getting them to brush their teeth, there may be an underlying issue. In this case, it’s essential to schedule a dental check-up. Contact us to arrange your little one’s appointment.
Paediatric Dentistry is one of our specialities, and we offer various services to children. Find out more about our kid’s services here.