Summer is coming to an end and school is starting back. The time has come for our children to get back into a routine. While you start reinforcing early bedtimes, doing homework, and getting back on a schedule, why not also begin ensuring your kids are practicing healthy dental hygiene habits? Here are our top five suggestions for keeping your kids’ mouths clean and healthy.
1. Brush Twice a Day
Not surprisingly, this is our number one recommendation for developing healthy dental hygiene habits. Ensuring your kids are brushing their teeth every morning and every night is the best way to help them prevent cavities and tooth decay. Explain to your children that brushing their teeth will take away all the yucky germs on their teeth, just like washing with soap in the bath removes germs from their body. Show children how to brush all their teeth, not just the front ones, and encourage them to brush for at least two minutes each time. Young children may need you to help them until they can completely brush on their own. Try letting them do it by themselves first, and then you can finish up to make sure their teeth are thoroughly brushed.
2. Floss Daily
Getting in the habit of flossing can prove to be more difficult than just brushing. Reassure kids that even though it feels funny at first, they will get used to it once they get in the habit. Similarly, at first it may take more time, but after some practice it won’t take long at all. Children under the age of ten will more than likely need their parents’ help to floss. Many parents and children find the floss picks easier to use on children. Also, the floss picks come in fun colors and flavors that children enjoy.
3. Limit Certain Foods & Drinks
Sugary foods and drinks are not good for your kids’ teeth and should be limited as much as possible. Avoid letting your toddler drink milk or juice at bedtime because this can cause tooth decay. If your child chews gum, make sure it’s sugarless gum. Getting your child in the habit of making healthy choices and avoiding too much sugar will set them up for success in the future.
4. Visit Your Dentist
You may be surprised to learn that the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child go to the dentist as early as age one. It is important that your child visits the dentist every six months for a routine check up and teeth cleaning. Forming this habit as a child will make him or her more likely to practice this good dental hygiene habit as an adult. Your child may be nervous at first, but you can reassure him that it will be quick and painless. Consider giving some sort of reward after the visit, like a fun trip to the park.
5. Make It Fun
Practicing good dental hygiene is something you will want your kids doing every single day, so it will be helpful if you make it fun, especially if it becomes a struggle or an area of stress and conflict. Try letting your kids pick out their own special toothbrush and toothpaste. It may make them more excited to brush when they know they picked everything out themselves. Also, there are some great free apps you can download onto your phone or tablet such as brushDJ and Brusheez Little Monsters that will guide your kids as they brush with music and a two-minute timer.
Not only will these habits help your children avoid future problems with their teeth, but creating these habits now will set them up for success as they take care of their teeth as adults. We at Cornerstone Family Dentistry would love to help your child maintain a bright and healthy smile, so please make an appointment with us today!