Oral hygiene is one of the first things that kids should learn and this is no coincidence. Oral health plays a crucial role in the overall health of our bodies as adults and is also a factor that impacts our social status and ability to communicate with others. The way we learn to care for our teeth from a young age will pretty much set the path for years ahead. Considering these facts, it’s important for you as parents to explain the importance of oral health to your child early on.
Teach your little one about oral hygiene, encourage them to establish healthy habits in order to guarantee their oral health while they’re kids and as they grow up. In this article, we’ll help you by exploring the importance of oral health for kids in more detail and share with you X ways in which you can motivate your little ones to regularly brush their teeth and turn the activity into a fun and pleasant one.
Why is dental care important for kids?
Oral hygiene is just as important for little ones as it is for adults. In fact, it may be even more significant as it may help prevent dental diseases during later years. There are a number of popular dental conditions like gum disease, cavities, and plaque, which can all be prevented with regular teeth brushing and flossing. Dental decay is one of the most popular chronic diseases found in children and if not treated on time, could result in serious problems like infections. These consequences can, on the other hand, trigger problems with speaking, eating, and general health.
By teaching your little ones that teeth brushing and oral health is important, you can prevent:
- Tooth sensitivity
- Tooth decay
- Bad breath
- Tooth colouring
- Discomfort when speaking or smiling
How to turn teeth brushing into a fun activity for kids
One of the best ways to teach kids a new habit is to make the activity fun and intriguing for them. Teeth brushing is not any different. We’ve prepared a list of useful tips that can help you teach your little ones to regularly care for their oral hygiene.
Allow your kids to choose their own toothbrush
A simple thing you can do is let your little one choose their own toothbrush when brushing their teeth and caring for their oral hygiene. There are so many different fun options to choose from to make the activity exciting and something to look forward to. You can also play around with different fun toothbrush holders or dispensers like the Minions Toothpaste Dispenser. Your kid’s special toothbrush doesn’t need to be anything too fancy or pricey. It just needs to be something they’re interested in and look forward to caring for. Especially if it’s with their favourite character, chances are that they’ll be more motivated and invested in the process of toothbrushing.
Share the moment together
You may have heard that the best way to lead is by example. Brushing your teeth with your children gives them certainty that you practice what you preach and the process is truly beneficial for them. Kids are curious and it’s likely that they will study your every move until they’ve mastered tooth brushing. When young, children tend to try to be as much as they can as their parents. This is normal as parents are the first role models we have in life.
Brushing your teeth with your child will also give you a great opportunity to observe them as they perform the task. This will allow you to spot any slows in the way they’re doing it and maybe point them in the right direction.
Let your little ones do the brushing themselves
Children are excited about the first steps of growing up. Giving them small responsibilities shows them that you’re ready to trust them and allow them to be somewhat independent. This is why a lot of kids insist on handling everything alone without your help as parents. Such behaviour could potentially lead to arguments but it could also be taken advantage of for its benefits.
Allow your children to do the tooth brushing alone without your help. This will help them feel more mature and capable, it will build their confidence, and will also keep the process fun and interesting. In addition, when children are brushing their teeth they work on their motor skills and get better at doing it every day. Let them know when they’ve done a good job and you can even reward them with something they’ll appreciate.
This brings us to the next point.
Create a special reward system for tooth brushing
Rewards are perhaps among the most motivational things for children. Considering this, it’s advisable to create your own reward system and use it to motivate your little ones to spend more time brushing their teeth and paying attention to oral hygiene. For example, you could create a chart and make a note every time your little one brush or floss their teeth. You can use rewards like stickers, stamps, an extra hour of playtime or storytime, and more. You know your child best so choose the reward that you know will resonate best with them.
Start practising tooth brushing on toys
If you’ve ever observed little ones, chances are that you’ve noticed how they like to learn and strengthen certain skills by pretend play with their toys. You can motivate them about brushing their teeth by practising on a doll or stuffed animal that they’ve established a relationship with. Apart from being fun, this type of activity can also help your little ones get better at brushing their teeth as they’ll practice the movements more and get more comfortable with them.
Once the toys’ teeth are clean, it’s time for your child to brush their own. If you’re brave enough, you could even ask your little one to get some extra practice on your teeth. This will help them become familiar with real teeth and you can even use the moment to explain the different teeth, their purpose, and how we use them every day.
Educate your child about oral hygiene via books
Games are not the only way to get a child interested in something. You can also choose a colourful and rich kids’ book on oral hygiene to present the topic in a fun way. Oftentimes, the stories told in children’s books are exactly what intrigues the little minds and keeps them focused for longer. A kids’ book on oral health is the perfect way to learn about the ways in which we keep our teeth healthy, why this is important, and what types of consequences poorly maintained teeth can have on the body. You can also use this moment to talk to your kids about going to the dentist and turn the experience into something to look forward to rather than a complete nightmare.
Build a relationship with your child’s dentist
Going to the dentist is certainly not one of the most fun things a child experiences. It’s often associated with stress, discomfort, and fear. Part of the reason for these negative associations is the lack of information. If a child visits the dentist unprepared, all they’ll see are instruments and technology that they know nothing about. They’ll have to let someone check their teeth and trust that there will be no pain involved. However, if this is a complete stranger they know nothing about, this may be a problem.
Make sure that you find a professional, reliable, and compassionate dentist who can quickly win your little one’s trust over. Children are naturally more intuitive and can sense when something is not right. Support them in their visits to the dentist and always be by their side. Encourage them to ask as many questions as they can in order to become familiar with the process and be confident that they can go through it comfortably.
Once your dentist and your children have become friends, they’ll be more likely to trust him and follow his advice on oral care.
Be patient and encourage your little ones
Just like any other new habit, teaching your child to regularly brush their teeth, floss, and care for their oral hygiene may take some time. After all, there are a million other things that surely sound a lot more fun and attractive for kids. However, with persistence and consistency, you can help your kids incorporate oral health into their life from an early age and avoid a range of potential health threats as a result. By teaching your child the importance of oral hygiene while they are young, you’re helping them establish new habits that will be advantageous and beneficial for the rest of their lives.