As a parent, the list of things to teach your child seems to never end: from how to practice good manners and ride a bike to how to tie their shoes and get dressed each morning. But, while you’re juggling your mental teaching to-do list, don’t forget to add oral hygiene as a top priority.
The sooner your little one begins properly caring for their smile, the better the chance of their teeth growing in properly (and healthily). However, since young children don’t necessarily get excited about oral hygiene on their own, here are a few tips to help them form good habits early on and even have a good time while doing so!
How Do I Get My Child Excited About Oral Health?
Start Early On
It’s truly amazing what children are able to pick up on at such a young age. So, the sooner you begin getting them used to brushing and caring for their teeth, the better!
Once your baby’s first teeth appear, you should begin scheduling dental appointments for them. A pediatric dentist can assess the growth of your baby’s teeth to ensure they’re coming in properly — and offer advice if they are not.
This is also the time you should begin practicing oral hygiene with your children. Using a soft-bristled baby toothbrush, gently brush your baby’s gums and the few teeth they may have. While it may seem silly — since they likely don’t have too much to brush yet — this is primarily done to get them used to the feeling of the brush.
Make Brushing Fun
Especially when they’d rather stay in bed in their PJs, getting your kids up and into the bathroom to brush their teeth in the morning is not the easiest task. By making brushing fun, you can breeze through the morning and nighttime oral care routines with ease.
You can do so by:
Playing your kids’ favorite songs while they brush — talk about a dance party!
Have the family brush together — brushing and bonding time!
Turn flossing into a treasure hunt — who can find the biggest piece of food stuck in their mouth?
Give rewards for two-minutes of pristine brushing — little treats like stickers or gold stars can go a long way!
Let Them Choose Their Products
Your children are much more likely to enjoy brushing if they choose what their brushes look like. To make this happen, take them to the store so they can choose a brush that features their favorite superhero, princess, or otherwise.
You can also let them choose their flavor of toothpaste. Bubble gum and fruit-flavored pastes tend to be favorites — and as long as they contain fluoride, they’re perfectly good to use.
Connect Their Diets and Smiles
A lot of kids will choose junk food over vegetables when given the chance. But, as a parent, you know how important it is, for both their oral and overall health, that our little ones have a healthy diet.
As you’re feeding your kids the fruit and vegetables they need, explain how certain foods can improve their smiles — and certain ones can harm them. By understanding why they need to snack on healthy foods, instead of sugary sweets, your kids may be a bit more willing to opt for smile-friendly foods.
Choose the Right Foods
Now, just because a food is good for your kid’s overall health, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s great for their smiles. Starchy foods, such as whole-grain toast or rice cakes, can leave cavity-inducing sugars in your child’s mouth.
Aim to stock their diets with raw fruits, veggies, and calcium-rich foods such as:
You should also encourage your children to drink water over other sugary or acidic beverages such as soda or juice. While the latter drinks are not terrible for their teeth in moderation, water is definitely the best choice.
Family Dentistry in Oklahoma City
At Sorgen Dentistry, we are dedicated to providing the best in oral health care. Led by Dr. Bryan Sorgen, our dental team takes pride in educating our patients on maintaining optimal oral health and achieving their cosmetic goal via a wide range of services. And, most importantly, we take great pride in treating our patients with the care, attention, and service they deserve.
Contact us online today or call us at (405) 400-1257 to schedule an appointment with our team.