More Than Just Brushing and Flossing: Habits to Teach Your Kids for Good Oral Health
By Anita Ginsburg
Nothing is more important to your child’s oral health than brushing and flossing, but many children never get into the habit of taking care of their teeth. You can help your little ones develop good dental care routines by showing them healthy habits that will create a lifelong love of taking care of their mouth, gums, and teeth.
Make Oral Hygiene Part of the Routine
Children are more likely to take care of their teeth if they see it as a regular, pleasant part of getting up in the morning and of getting ready for bed. When children brush, floss, and do other oral hygiene tasks as recommended by their dentist at regular times each day instead of only occasionally, oral care becomes second nature. For most kids, oral care should be the last thing they do at night and the first thing they do when they get up.
Go to the Dentist Regularly
Scheduled pediatric dental care services include exams, x-rays, cleanings, fluoride treatments, sealants, and other simple procedures that should become part of life for your kids. Regular dental visits for others in the family set a good example and show children that dental offices are nothing to be afraid of. Also, avoid speaking negatively about dental visits around your kids, and explain that you visit your dentist routinely just as your children should go for their pediatric dental care services.
Talk About Teeth-Friendly Foods
Children aren’t born knowing which foods are bad for their teeth and which aren’t. When you explain that foods like candy, cookies, and chips can hurt them, it could encourage eating healthier foods. When you suggest fruit, veggies, cheeses, or lean meats as snacks, remind your children that these things are better for their teeth than sugary, crunchy, or fatty foods. Make healthy foods convenient and explain their benefits so that children are more likely to choose them.
Incorporate Oral Health Into Playtime
Add books, DVDs, and games related to oral health to your child’s regular activities. You can also do craft projects that include creating accurate tooth models or fun drawings that show off lots of smiling faces with beautiful teeth exposed. You and your children can even create colorful reminder signs about brushing and flossing to hang in their bathroom so there’s always a positive oral health message around.
When children see oral care as something everyone does and that benefits them every day, they are less likely to skip it or stop doing it. You may have to remind them many times because habits take time to stick, but your positive oral health messages will get through, even if it doesn’t seem like it at first.
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