It is never too early to teach children about the importance of good dental hygiene. From the time a child’s first tooth breaks through, parents need to instill that message. The lessons they learn as young children will stay with them for a lifetime.
That’s why parents should begin with a child brush and fine grain fluoride toothpaste even before youngsters are able to hold a brush. Over time, plan on moving from you handling the brush to them and be sure to create a twice-daily routine. Children do well with consistency. At each phase of the process, keep an eye on the big picture. Teach self-reliance. Here are a few ways get them on track.
3 Tips To Help Your Child Have Good Dental Hygiene
Kids all want to be “big.” That means being able to do grownup things and make parents proud of them. That’s a great message to carry into learning dental hygiene, because smart grownups do take care of their teeth. As your child learns each basic step, let them know they’re doing well. First steps may only be rinsing and spitting, but let them know they do it “just like the big kids.”
During next steps such as holding a toothbrush properly, let them know they’re making progress. Say things like, “Wow, I don’t think I was able to do that at your age. Good job.” And when they can manage the entire task from start to finish. Let them know by saying that “I guess you’re getting pretty big.” An affirmative smile and a pat on the back will swell your child with pride and make them want to brush and floss regularly.
Learning As They Grow
It’s important to pace the dental hygiene lessons so that they are successful. Setbacks such as dropping brushes or making a mess with the paste can be demoralizing for some children. Dental hygiene shouldn’t be like sports where you overcome adversity. The goal is to make it a positive life experience and age-appropriate learning is key.
If you’re child has gained enough dexterity to tie their shoes, then they are probably able to handle brushing on their own. That generally happens at about six years old. However, everyone learns and grows at their own pace. As a parent, be cognizant when you see the signs that they can manage independent brushing.
Flossing takes more coordination than brushing. A wonderful way to lead into that is by providing them with a flossing tool. Most youngsters won’t need it after about 10 years old. But, no matter how old they get, positive parental reinforcement is golden.
Many parents go the fun route. You can come up with a family brushing song or even bring toys and action figures into the mix. Building a positive atmosphere around oral hygiene has residual value. But, at the end of the day, the goal is to create ownership. It’s about transferring power to the child.
There are a few things you can do outside the bathroom that may have an impact. For instance, take your child to the store and have them select an age-appropriate brush that fits their personality. Many have popular character handles. Also, the toothpaste industry spends a ton of money marketing to kids. If it’s a reputable brand and they connect with it, have them put it in the shopping cart. The more ownership your child has over the process, the better the chances of long-term success.
Dr. Mike Cassidy has been helping people with dental hygiene since qualifying in 1978. His office is located at 29 Broad Street, St. Helier. Please visit the website for more information or call to schedule and appointment.