6 Ways Your Kids Can Ace Their Oral Hygiene Routines
At the end of a long day, sometimes we want to climb into bed, turn off the light on the bedside table, and pull our covers over our heads. But, we know better and sometimes even begrudgingly haul ourselves to the bathroom to brush, floss, and rinse our teeth. Why do we do it? Because we understand the importance that oral hygiene has on our overall health. Yet, when it comes to kids, parents often ask us how to teach oral hygiene, especially when kids would rather play for just a few more minutes, pushing back their bedtime and oral care routine as long as possible.
How to get your kids to brush and floss their teeth
From your child’s perspective, there are so many more fun things to do than brush and floss their teeth. Whether it be Legos, Barbies, getting lost in the Harry Potter movies, or whatever captures your child’s interest, parents often struggle with how to teach oral hygiene. And, trust us, we know how hard it is too. But, what we’ve learned is that introducing your kids to the concept of good oral care as soon as possible is critical, and consistency is just as important.
Here are some tips that we have learned to get your child to brush and floss their teeth regularly.
1. Start when they’re young.
Taking care of your child’s oral health starts right after they are born. Even babies’ gums, before their teeth come in, need to be cleaned daily. Make baby-oral-hygiene time a special time by smiling into their eyes, and showing them lots of love while you gently wash their gums with a soft dampened cloth.
2. Make visiting the dentist a happy experience.
Picking the right dentist for your child is critical, but so too is getting them into the habit right away. Your baby should make their first trip to the dentist around their first birthday and every six months thereafter. We have found that children who start going to the dentist before their memories begin to develop have no memories of not going, making it far easier to become part of their routine. On a related note, when children associate your positive words with a good trip to the dentist, they’ll be less likely to harbor any dental anxiety, so talk positively about dental care with your children at home.
3. Teach good oral care techniques.
When it comes to oral care, children need to learn how to brush, floss, and rinse properly from their parents. So, be sure to take the time necessary to teach your child proper brushing and flossing techniques and monitor their brushing time. Making oral care a routine in your home might make things easier.
For example, have everyone brush their teeth at the same time before bed. Or, play a toothbrushing song to teach your preschooler how long they should brush their teeth (two minutes). Introduce a kids’ mouthwash when your child is old enough to swish and spit without swallowing (around six years of age).
4. Have some fun in the dental aisle.
Kids love being part of the decision-making process. For younger kids, let them pick out a few different age-appropriate toothbrushes in different colors and keep them in a cup on their bathroom counter. Let your child decide which toothbrush they’ll use whenever it is time to brush (twice a day, preferably after breakfast and before dinner). Grade-school kids might prefer an electric toothbrush, And tech-savvy kids might have fun downloading an app that can sync up to their toothbrush, reporting back to them how long they brushed, if they brushed too hard, etc.
5. Consider dental sealants and fluoride treatments to protect your child’s teeth.
While this might not be a recommendation intended to teach your child how to brush and floss, it’s one that we think is pretty important, so we thought we would add it into our list of tips. Dental sealants are a thin, plastic coating that is applied to the premolars and molars. Many dentists recommend dental sealants to help prevent tooth decay in those hard-to-reach spaces. Fluoride treatments are also a great option, especially for kids that don’t get enough fluoride in the water they drink at home.
6. Protect those teeth on the playing field.
We understand how hard it can be to get your kids to brush and floss. And though they may have mastered it by now, it is important to check in periodically to make sure those habits stay strong. But caring for your kids’ teeth doesn’t just happen at home. Make sure your kids are protecting those pearly whites during any athletic activities on the playing field. Children should wear helmets when biking, playing football, and when participating in any sport where a head injury is common. Custom-fit mouthguards are also a great way to prevent dental trauma in the event of an impact at play.
Have more questions about how to get your kids to brush and floss?
If you still have questions about how to get your kids to brush their teeth, or the routine at home just isn’t working, it might be time for a call or visit to your Omaha dentist for kids. The team at Pediatric Dental Specialists is well versed in treating kids from infancy to adolescence and will provide the best possible care in a comfortable, safe, and fun environment designed just for them.
If you need help teaching your kids how to brush and floss, or you are just overdue in getting them in for a dental cleaning and oral examination, there is no time like the present to request an appointment. We look forward to seeing you and your child soon.