Whether you brush as much as you should or not, you still want to pass along good dental hygiene habits to your kids. After all, a clean, healthy smile can help boost their confidence, help prevent other diseases, and even help them land that great job in the future. How do you take something you do regularly and break it down so your kids can understand it, though? Here are a few of the most important things to teach your kids about brushing their teeth.
Time Will Tell
Most dentists agree that everyone- kids and adults alike- need to brush their teeth for at least two minutes at a time. This duration is hard for many adults to achieve, though, much less kids. Fortunately, there are many aids designed to help your kids take the time to brush every last nook and cranny.
Something as simple as a two-minute sand timer can be a great way for your kids to see when they’ve gone long enough, plus help them know how much time they have left. Many toothbrushes include a flashing light in the handle that turns off after the correct amount of time has passed. Of course, you can also use the timer on your phone and let your child know when their time’s up.
No Floss Lost
Flossing is such a beneficial habit to get into. Unfortunately, it’s also a difficult habit to get into. The best way to establish this beneficial habit is to start young, so figuring out how to make flossing fun for your kids is extra-important.
Using pre-strung flossers is a good first step, since mastering loose dental floss can be a tricky task. You can find these flossers in any color you’d like, so get them in your child’s favorite color. Then, give the flosser a fun name, like “tickle stick” or “string thing” that takes the focus off the act of flossing and puts it on fun and silliness. Then, just stick with it. Remind your child to floss every day and they’ll soon establish a habit that they’ll do automatically.
Getting to the Dentist
The dentist can be an intimidating place for some children, since they can equate the dentist with a doctor. Understand what fears your child has about going to the dentist, and then explain what actually happens to help calm those fears. Most popular children’s shows have an episode about going to the dentist, so you can use that as a tool, as well.
If your child has a friend or older sibling who does well at the dentist, having your child talk to them about their experiences can help calm their fears. Lastly, if need be, since you will only be going to the dentist twice a year, it’s okay to make a successful dentist visit a cause for celebration. Allowing your child to choose a small toy, or grabbing a burger from their favorite fast food restaurant can be a great way to incentivize them to face their fears. Just avoid sweets as an incentive, since that will send the wrong signals and seem to contradict what the dentist says.
A visit to a dentist like Malony Dental & Cosmetic can be a great springboard to help you improve your child’s eating habits if they tend to avoid healthier foods in favor of more sugary snacks. Let them know that future dental checkups will go far better if they work on eating fewer sweets. Plus, regular brushing and flossing will be easier since healthier teeth make for a smoother foundation for the toothbrush and flosser to glide over. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a sudden shift, just a slow phase-out of sweets over time is enough to set your kids up for a lifetime of great oral health.
Practice What You Preach
The most important thing you can do to help your kids develop good dental hygiene habits is to practice those good habits yourself. Even if you currently don’t practice the best habits, showing your child that you’re willing to admit your mistakes and set a course for change is a very powerful influence to help them do the same. Brushing your teeth side-by-side with your child will give them a good example to follow for the proper technique and to show them that they’re not alone in the grind of daily teeth brushing.