Good habits start young!
Setting your child up now for good dental hygiene will pay off big time! Don’t be tempted to brush off the importance of baby teeth; your child’s baby teeth hold space and guide adult teeth into place. If they fall out or need to be removed too early, it can cause alignment issues with adult teeth. If a child’s dental hygiene is taken seriously, this reduces the need for treatment, and can significantly reduce future fears and anxieties in adulthood!
Here are some ways to get your child started in caring for their teeth:
Let them try first.
As any parent knows, toddlers are all about asserting their independence. Letting them try out brushing for themselves is not only going to help avoid those bathroom battles, but it’s also a good way to get them into the habit young. Try making a deal that they can brush first, then Mom or Dad takes over to make sure every tooth is shiny and clean!
Pick out a toothbrush and toothpaste together.
Make brushing time more fun by letting your child pick out a fun toothbrush – read this post first for some helpful tips on what to look for. When it comes to toothpaste, kids typically prefer milder flavours, and should be using a non-fluoride formula until at least the age of three or until they can be safely trusted to spit out the toothpaste.
And even more importantly: floss, floss, floss! Children’s tooth enamel is thinner than that of adults and as a result, kids get cavities much more quickly. Some baby teeth need to last over a decade!
Make it fun!
As with most things, make toothbrushing into a game and you’ll have more fun and less fights. Brush together and have your child copy what you do as you brush. Sing or play a song that’s about two minutes long or use a sand or digital timer while you’re brushing your child’s teeth, so that you know exactly when time’s up. Incentivize with a sticker chart for each good brushing, maybe even working toward a big reward like a trip to the zoo or a sleepover with friends! The options are endless and you know your child best, so figure out what types of incentives and games work and then stick with it.
Talk and explain.
Sometimes we can forget to actually explain why we do the things we do to our kids. Remember that everything is a learning experience for little ones! Talk to them about what their teeth do, why their teeth are important, and why we clean our teeth. Think back to what your child ate that day and talk about how you are getting all of those things cleaned out of your child’s teeth as you brush.
It’s also important to talk to children about the impact diet has on teeth. Having a proper understanding of this connection will set up a great foundation of understanding for their whole life, and help improve the longevity of their teeth. If you have questions about how diet impacts teeth, read our article on this topic and don’t hesitate to ask us!
Make it a routine.
Kids tend to respond well to routine, and when toothbrushing is just a part of your child’s regular routine at the same time, day in and day out, they’ll come to expect and accept it. The younger you start, the more ingrained this is. Before your child has teeth, clean the gums with a soft cloth, and as soon as teeth start coming in, start brushing.
We can help!
It probably won’t surprise you to hear that we love seeing your kids in our clinic! We use fun teaching aids like Biggy Smiles, our blue stuffed dragon with a big toothy smile, to help us teach kids about their teeth and how to brush and floss. Our youth hygiene rooms are even equipped with things like Netflix and toys. Learn more about Children’s Dentistry at Tuxedo Dental Group here, and find some great tips on making your child’s first visit with us a good experience here.