If you want your kids to have a lifetime of good dental hygiene and oral health, it’s best to teach them from a very young age. Some of the habits they develop with baby teeth or braces can have long term effects on their teeth and gums. So here are some of our best tips for how to teach kids good dental hygiene.
How to Teach Kids Good Dental Hygiene
The best way to teach kids good dental hygiene is to start early. You can begin having your child’s mouth and teeth checked by a dentist as early as six months old or when their first teeth erupt. These early checks will be very quick, but will establish a routine for your child well before they are old enough to sit in the chair on their own.
You can also start with cleaning their mouths early, too. You can run a soft, damp cloth over their gums when they’re babies, and can begin to gently brush their teeth with a baby toothbrush when their first teeth have erupted. As soon as their motor skills are developed, you can monitor them as they brush on their own.
Bottom line: the earlier you start, the easier it will be to teach them a lifetime of good dental hygiene habits.
- Make going to the dentist a regular occurence
Like we mentioned before, you can start taking your child to the dentist earlier than you’d think. If possible, take them with you to your teeth cleaning exams so they can meet the dental staff and the dentist. This will help them get used to the environment from a young age. The sights, smells and sounds won’t feel so scary when they look forward to seeing their favorite front desk person, or get to play with the toys in the waiting area, or even get to sit next to you while your teeth are cleaned.
This tactic is a good way to normalize this important office and aspect of their oral health journey.
- Give them autonomy
As soon as your child is able, give them autonomy and choice in their dental hygiene. Even something as small as letting them pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste, or brush by themselves can help them feel in charge of their health.
This step can also help them feel brave those first few times they sit by themselves in the dental chair for their own teeth cleaning appointments. They’ll know that it’s part of being a “big kid” and taking care of themselves, by themselves!
- Take advantage of tools
There are more (and better!) tools than ever to make dental hygiene fun, easier and more effective for your kids. From toothbrushes with wider handle grips for little hands, to water flossers that can get under and around braces, there are many tools to help your child practice good dental hygiene. Ask your dentist at your next appointment if there’s anything they recommend specifically for kids. They might have a tool or two you haven’t heard of yet, or can order something that will work well for your child’s particular concern.
- Use technology
There are lots of fun apps that help incentivize good dental hygiene for kids. From apps that help your child brush for the full two minutes to programs that award badges for developing good brushing habits, there’s technology that can help your kid be a star dental patient.
You can also try dental tools that have a technology side, like toothbrushes that beep every 30 seconds so your child knows when to start brushing a new side of their mouth. Or, you could even use other types of technology to work for you, like building a tooth brushing playlist and asking Alexa or Google to play the playlist when it’s time to brush.
- Make it a family affair
If the whole family is in on the oral health adventure, it will be a lot more fun! You could have daily tooth brushing parties, schedule all your dental appointments in one day or even all rinse out with water together after a picnic or outing. This is an especially effective trick when your kids are younger, and can help streamline morning and bedtime brushing routines.
- Be a great example
Last but not least, one of the best ways to teach kids good dental hygiene is to be a great example! Never skip your dental appointments, always brush for two minutes twice a day and make flossing a part of your daily oral hygiene habits. You can also make it a point to show your kids how you rinse after a meal, or eat healthy snacks for your teeth and gums, like celery or apples.
Maybe most importantly, though, you can show your kids your own brave and excited face when it comes to dental appointments and dental hygiene, even if you don’t feel that way yourself. We know many adults suffer from dental anxiety (often learned from when they were kids), but if you can “fake it until you make it” in front of your kids, they’ll be more likely to have less fear around the dentist than you do.
Overall, we know you love your kids and want them to have a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums…that’s why you’re reading this article! All it takes is starting early, finding the right tools to get the job done and being a great example of what it is to care for your smile.
Remember: The above information is to be used as general guidelines and you should not use this information to diagnose yourself. If you are concerned about your teeth, you should contact our Clintonville, Ohio dentists for a thorough dental exam.
Pediatric Dentistry in Columbus Ohio
We are proud to offer pediatric dentistry to our patients in Central Ohio. Start your child on good oral hygiene habits early. Contact us today to learn more!