Nearly half of all children between the ages of two and eleven have cavities. This is just one of many reasons why proper oral hygiene is important, even for younger kids.
Unfortunately, teaching dental hygiene to children can be difficult. Kids are often very reluctant to brush their teeth, let alone floss.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be impossible. There are ways to get your children more excited about their teeth and make your job much easier.
We’ll talk more about some of them in the paragraphs below.
1. Brush Together
Imitation is an essential part of learning. Kids learn how to do things correctly, and incorrectly, by watching adults. Teaching dental hygiene to children may just be a matter of setting an example.
So, the next time you want to go to bed without brushing your teeth, remember that your kids will notice.
Not only that, but it’s a great time to bond with your kids. It may not be exactly what you picture when you think of quality time, but memories are strange. We can sometimes latch onto things that don’t seem at all significant.
2. Let Them Choose Their Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Choice is a powerful motivator, even if it’s technically an illusion. When the child is allowed to choose their toothbrush, they are simply choosing the specifics of how they want to brush their teeth, although they still have to brush.
However, this is more than just a handy trick. Being able to choose a toothbrush may make them more comfortable. Seeing a familiar character greet them when they go to brush may make the whole process easier.
Their toothpaste may also be part of the issue. Many of the stronger kinds of toothpaste have a minty burn to them, and some kids might not be able to handle that.
If they’re allowed to pick their toothpaste, they’ll likely choose something flavored. This will mean a more enjoyable brush for them and an easier time for you.
3. Reward System
Rewards are an age-old method of reinforcing good behavior. Giving your child something to look forward to and strive towards might get them on board with brushing.
What you decide to do for a reward is up to you. Perhaps you’ll let them invite a friend over. Maybe they get a new toy, or to see a movie.
The choice is yours, but it should be something your child wants and something that won’t be difficult to get.
4. Tell Stories
Children tend to be very imaginative, and many of them love to hear stories. You could try picking up some children’s books about dental hygiene or make up some stories yourself.
You could tell them a scary story about why they should brush their teeth. You may even tell them the truth.
Most children won’t understand the finer aspects of germ theory, but they’d get the basic idea. They can imagine tiny creatures in our teeth that we need to get rid of so they don’t make us sick or cause our teeth to fall out.
You could even fall back on the legend of the tooth fairy. They already give money for teeth, so caring about clean teeth seems reasonable.
It may be difficult to come up with games based on brushing your teeth, but it might work. You might try a simple counting game, where you count off seconds on the clock until you’re done.
You can challenge them to stand on one foot the whole time they’re brushing or see if they can jump the whole time.
For flossing, you can try to see who can finish the fastest. This one is better suited to older kids who can floss by themselves.
Ultimately, the point is to distract them. If they’re more focused on something fun, they won’t think so much about brushing their teeth.
Singing while you brush your teeth tends to be difficult, but listening to music can be a lot of fun. If you can find a children’s song that lasts a few minutes, you have something for your children to brush to.
This isn’t a new idea by any means. There have even been toothbrushes created that play music while you brush.
Again, it’s about distraction. They’re more focused on the music, and maybe even dancing to it than they are on brushing their teeth.
7. Find a Good Dentist
This may not seem like it helps, but if your child has a good relationship with the dentist, it might be enough to keep them brushing their teeth. Pediatric dentists are experts at what they do, so they may have some tricks of their own to get kids into brushing and flossing.
As a parent, your relationship with the dentist should also be good. If you trust the person taking care of your children’s teeth then everything should work out fine for all parties concerned.
Teaching Dental Hygiene to Children: The How and Why
Teaching dental hygiene to children can be a daunting task, but there are ways to do it. We’ve mentioned only a few of them in the paragraphs above, but there are plenty more out there. We encourage you to do more research on your own if you’re interested.
If you want to know more about children’s dental health, please visit our site. We can give you some advice about introducing your kid to their dentist.