Kids are amazing-little critters. They bring joy to our hearts, laughter to a home, and say hilarious things. However, they are also wiggly, messy, and rarely have oral hygiene at the top of their to-do list. Teaching the importance of good dental habits is a challenge that most parents will stumble upon during the “hygiene IS important” phase. You’ll often find yourself constantly reminding your children to do everyday things, such as take a bath (because you haven’t all week) and brush your teeth (because they are filled with yesterday’s cheesy puffs).
Keep in mind that the first thing a child is concerned about is having fun. The questions running through their heads are things like, “How many bugs can I collect with friends today?”, “How much time will it take me to beat my new video game?”, “Is Mountain Dew the best way to wash down a whole bag of Doritos?”, and “How many Skittles can I throw at my sister before she tattles on me?” All valid questions, but none of them have anything to do with making sure
to brush and floss daily. So, what is the best way to teach your kids how to have good dental habits? Easy… stick with fun. It is what they relate to and ultimately their only priority (as it should be, adulting is not nearly as exciting as bug collecting, although it often still involves the great “Mountain Dew-Dorito” debate).
Here are three tips to help make dental hygiene something your kids will want to care about:
1- Monkey See, Monkey Do
Ok, so your kids are not monkeys, but this is a popular saying for a very good reason. Children are extremely observant and will pick up on the habits of those around them, good or bad. Make sure that your children witness you taking care of your own oral hygiene. Show them that you brush twice a day (at least) and floss once a day (at least). The same goes for older siblings. Younger children will often admire their older sibling and strive to be just like them “when they grow up.”
This is also a good time to incorporate “family brushing” into your daily schedule. This can be fun for the whole family and is often something that a young child will look forward to. It will bring the family together (even if it is for a brief-brushing moment) and be a positive thing for everyone’s dental health.
2- The Rewards Program
Every child wants to please their parents (well, that is the hope anyway). So why not take advantage of this fact. Sit down with your child and make a goal chart. It can be daily goals, weekly goals, or even monthly goals. When they reach their oral hygiene goals, reward them. It can be simple things, such as small toys, an ice cream cone, or playing their favorite game. It can also be bigger rewards for reaching bigger goals, such as a night out seeing the movie of their choice, a new video game, or dinner at their favorite restaurant. Everyone loves to be rewarded for good deeds and kids are no different. The option of spending the day at a trampoline park may be the motivation your child needs to scrub those chompers.
3- Name That Tune
The bare minimum of time that children (and adults) should brush their teeth for is two minutes. An uncomfortably large number of people all over the world miss this mark. Two minutes may seem easy to do, but unless you are aware of that specific time passing, most likely you will fall short. So, how do you teach a child, who probably does not have a firm grasp on the concept of
time, to brush their teeth for two full minutes? Easy… music.
Find a song that your child loves, it could be from their favorite cartoon, favorite song learned at school, or that Simon and Garfunkel song that you sing while doing the dishes that has become a part of their soul as well. No matter the song, make sure it is at least two minutes long, and play it each time they brush their teeth. This will make it fun and keep them from missing the time mark.
If you are still struggling with the challenge of teaching your children good oral hygiene habits, and are looking for more tips and tricks, contact our office today. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff can help you find a way to make sure your kids have a healthy and happy smile.