It’s never too early to teach the importance of good dental habits to kids. Although toddlers can be unpredictable at times, except for dentistry for children, here are several suggestions to begin making good oral care an enjoyable part of their day.
1. Together Time
Many young children enjoy special “Mommy” or “Daddy” time when they have your undivided attention. Make tooth brushing an activity you do together. You can use this opportunity to demonstrate proper brushing, and how brushing is fun! Set aside a time in the morning and before bed at night. Let your child “help” you with brushing, as you help him. If you simply are unable to change your routine to match your child’s schedule, it’s OK for you to brush lightly along with your child.
2. Story Time
Use brushing time to tell a story in two-minute increments, and end each segment with a cliff-hanger. The suspense will make it easier to get them to brush at the right time, and it will encourage them to brush for the required two minutes. As your child becomes more comfortable with brushing, she can give you some ideas for the next segment.
Sometimes little ones get fussy when Mom or Dad try and brush their teeth. This situation can be remedied with the use of hand (or sock) puppets. Let a doggie, Froggie, or superhero be the one to help your toddler brush his teeth. A favorite puppet will get him smiling and laughing instead of fussing and pouting.
4. Allow Messiness
Plaque disclosing products are colored tablets that stick to the plaque to show areas that your child has missed. Older toddlers and elementary-aged kids love having a mouthful of color! This technique not only encourages thorough brushing and flossing, but it also provides entertainment and opportunities for competition among siblings. Who has the most dye left after brushing? Who has the least?
5. Lights, Sounds, Action!
Parents and dentists agree that electric toothbrushes make brushing easier. Many are equipped with flashing lights and fun sounds, and some have two-minute timers that ring when your child has brushed long enough. Although kids still need supervision until age 6 or 7, an electric toothbrush allows them to be more autonomous and lets them have fun while brushing. With all the lights, sounds, and vibration, children’s electric toothbrushes share a lot of characteristics with your child’s favorite toys.
6. Attitude is Everything
Research has demonstrated that parents’ attitude toward dental visits is the main influencer of children’s attitudes. If Mom or Dad gets tense at a dentist appointment, then chances are that the kids will also view the dentist in a negative way. Make a conscious effort to be relaxed and cheerful at your own appointments, as well as at your children’s. This will go a long way toward your child having a positive attitude about dental visits.
If you instill good dental habits in your children at a young age, those dental habits will stay with them throughout their life. Keeping a regular brushing and flossing schedule will make your life easier and encourage compliance from your kids.