If you’re the parent of a young child, you likely already understand the importance of oral hygiene to a child’s overall health. Poor dental health can lead to cavities, tooth loss, and other complications. As a parent you can help teach your child the importance of good oral health habits – here are some tips to get started.
It’s important that you demonstrate proper brushing techniques. Here are some tips:
- Brush at a 45-degree angle to the gums. Remember not to scrub your gums too hard, as this can cause irritation.
- Brush for a full two minutes every time – set a timer if necessary.
- Be sure to brush everywhere, including behind your front teeth where tartar can build up.
Being a good role model will help ensure that your child picks up good habits.
Make It Fun
If you have a young child and want to instill good oral care habits, try adding some fun to the mix. By associating a fun activity with the daily routine, you can give them something to look forward to. Here are some ideas to try:
- Make a calendar to hang on the bathroom door and have them put stickers on each day when they brush. They’ll get a sense of accomplishment as they fill the calendar with stickers.
- Make up your own tooth brushing song and sing it every night while you brush their teeth before bed.
- Get them a toothbrush that lights up or plays music. Kids also love the electric toothbrush.
Use your imagination and come up with an approach that will works best for your child.
Schedule Regular Dental Checkups
You might think that as long as you regularly brush your child’s teeth, there’s no reason to take them to the dentist every six months. However, regular dental checkups and cleanings are the best way to avoid cavities and other problems.
According to the American Dental Association, your child should first visit the dentist when they turn one, followed by every six months thereafter. When you make dental visits a part of your child’s normal routine, your child will become more comfortable with the visits.
Watch the Sugar
It’s no secret that kids love candy, ice cream, and other sweets. It’s up to you as a parent, however, to make sure that they have a well-balanced diet.
Your child may not be old enough to understand the connection between too many sugary treats and bad oral health, but it’s never too early to help them develop good eating habits. Here are some things to try:
- Make sure they drink plenty of water, and limit their consumption of juice and other sugary beverages.
- Use treats as a reward for good behavior and accomplishments – don’t allow candy to become a regular part of their diet.
- Only allow candy and other treats after meals, and make sure they brush and floss afterwards.
Use Visual Aids
Consider using visual aids to help teach your child the importance of oral care. This is often more effective than a verbal explanation. Here are some examples of visual aids you may find helpful:
- Graphic pictures of tooth decay, to show the effects of poor oral care
- A dental model, used to teach proper brushing technique
- Coloring books
- Worksheets and other printable educational materials
- Educational videos
It can be hard to explain to a young child why oral health is so important, but with some visual aids and a little fun, you may be able to get through to them.
When it’s time to schedule your child’s checkup, contact Richard Leong Jr DDS for an appointment. We take pride in oral health care.