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The oral hygiene habits that your young one forms in childhood will last the rest of their life. By teaching them the importance of caring for their teeth and instructing them on the best techniques to do so, you are helping ensure their long-term oral health.
That being said, getting your child excited about brushing and flossing is one of the best ways to instil these values. Making oral hygiene fun for your youngster helps them build lasting, healthy habits. In this article, we will cover six oral health tips that you can try with your child.
Oral Hygiene for Kids
First, let’s take a look at what your child’s oral hygiene habits should look like. They should be almost identical to those you are practising yourself.
- Your child should brush their teeth twice every single day: once in the morning and once at night. Brush for two minutes at a time. Children are usually ready to brush their own teeth between the ages of 6 and 8. Prior to that, you will need to help them brush their teeth.
- Use a soft-bristled, child-sized toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Hard brushes can damage tooth enamel and scrape the gums. Change the toothbrush every three months (or sooner if it wears out).
- You should start flossing your child’s teeth as soon as two of their baby teeth touch. Most children are ready to start flossing their own teeth by age 8. Flossers are a great tool for teaching young children how to floss.
- Some sort of fluoride is important for your child’s oral health, such as, for example, fluoride toothpaste or fluoride mouthwash. Fluoride strengthens the tooth enamel, which is essential for healthy teeth.
- Avoid sugary and sticky foods and drinks that can promote the development of cavities.
- Never allow your baby to sleep with a bottle. This can lead to “baby bottle tooth decay.”
- Infants and children that are prone to cavities can get dental sealants from their dentist. These are thin, plastic coatings that protect the teeth from further decay.
- Your child should visit the dentist at least twice a year for a professional cleaning and comprehensive exam. It’s very important to monitor the development of your child’s teeth for orthodontic issues, tooth decay, and other potential issues.
How to Make Oral Hygiene Fun for Children
1. Make brushing and flossing entertaining and engaging
Think of some creative ways that you can make brushing and flossing engaging, entertaining, and exciting for your child. If these habits are seen as easy and fun, they’re more likely to stick.
Here are some ideas on how to make brushing and flossing fun:
- Put on some music or choose a designated “toothbrushing song.”
- Set a timer for two minutes and pretend it’s a race.
- Tell your kids that they’re superheroes fighting cavities with their toothbrushes and toothpaste.
- Use a fun toothbrushing app to spark your child’s interest.
2. Let your child pick out their toothbrush
Getting your child excited for their oral hygiene will help them build strong habits for life. One easy way to do this is simply allowing your child to pick out their own toothbrush. There are many colourful, interesting, and fun toothbrushes designed specifically to catch your child’s eye.
When they get to choose their own toothbrush, your child will feel more ownership over their oral care. They’ll also get excited to use their new toothbrush.
This same philosophy can be applied to their toothpaste and floss. Involve your child in the whole process of selecting their dental care tools.
3. Turn brushing and flossing Into family time
Turning morning and nightly flossing into family time is another way to make these experiences fun and engaging. Plus, these are opportunities to teach your child how to care for their teeth and the importance of doing so.
It’s essential to teach your kids how to properly care for their teeth and gums. Young children are not able to thoroughly brush or floss by themselves, so you will need to help them. Give them plenty of encouragement and specific brushing tips.
You can also brush and floss your own teeth at the same time as your child. This demonstrates that you care about your oral health and take steps to ensure it. By setting a positive example for your child, you are encouraging them to stick to their own oral hygiene habits.
4. Create a brushing chart
An interactive brushing chart can get your child excited about caring for their teeth and help them build strong habits. Keep the chart in the bathroom, near the bathroom sink.
Every time that your child brushes or flosses, encourage them to place a sticker on the chart. These stickers are a fun representation of their accomplishments, and one that they can proudly show off to other family members. A brushing chart is also a good way to track their progress.
5. Reward good oral hygiene habits
You can also use the brushing chart in a reward system where your child’s accomplishments are recognized. Stickers that your child can collect are an easy reward.
However, you can also give out gold stars, certificates of achievement, or high-fives. Another option is to reward daily, weekly, or monthly accomplishments with their favourite game or small prize.
6. Make trips to their pediatric dentist exciting
Regular trips to the dentist are crucial for maintaining your child’s oral health. As a result, it’s very important that your child feels comfortable with dentists and excited about their appointments. Try to hype the visit beforehand and explain what they should expect.
Of course, what happens at the dental office is vital, too. When your child sees their pediatric dentist at Bloor West Smiles, our entire team goes above and beyond to make their visit as positive as possible. We want them to feel comfortable and relaxed the entire time.
After the visit, reward your child with something they enjoy like a trip to the park or zoo. You want them to have positive associations with their dentist appointments.
Make an Appointment With a Pediatric Dentist in Toronto
Your child should visit their pediatric dentist at least twice a year from the age of 1 or 2 onward. This is essential for the development of their teeth and their long-term oral health.
At Bloor West Smiles in Toronto, our pediatric team is committed to caring for your child’s well-being in an environment where they feel safe and comfortable. Our compassionate and experienced team can also answer any questions you may have.