Kids’ Dental Care 101: Tips to Teach Your Children About Oral Hygiene

Oral hygiene for kids.

Establishing good oral hygiene habits early in life provides a foundation for your children to enjoy healthy smiles for decades to come. While kids’ dental care may seem like a dry topic, there are plenty of ways to get your kids engaged.

Making Oral Hygiene Fun

One of the best ways you can ensure proper kids’ dental care is by making oral hygiene fun. Implementing a variety of methods can turn brushing and flossing from a chore into an activity that your children genuinely look forward to.

Letting your child pick out a toothbrush themselves is a great place to start. Children’s toothbrushes come in a variety of designs, and many feature familiar characters that your kids will want to engage with. 

Some toothbrushes even have built-in music that helps your child know that they’re brushing long enough each time for effective cavity prevention. Alternatively, you can play your own two-minute song and achieve the same goal.

Tracking progress can add a sense of meaning to daily oral hygiene routines. This could be done using a simple sticker chart, where your child receives stickers each time they brush and can track their unbroken streak. A variety of apps offer similar features, but sticking with physical stickers is a straightforward, effective, and creative method.

Education Through Storytelling

Your children need to understand the importance of proper oral hygiene. However, simply explaining the details of bacteria, plaque, and tooth decay may go over their heads or simply bore them. You might also risk frightening your children if you don’t present the risks of poor oral hygiene in the right way.

Relying on storytelling to communicate this information is often a better approach. Many resources are available, from books to episodes of favorite TV shows, that provide dental education for different developmental stages. These are tailored to a child’s perspective, instilling knowledge and communicating the importance of oral hygiene.

There are countless examples of books aimed at children’s dental education. Brush, Brush, Brush! is an excellent starting point, helping instill habits and familiarize your toddler with brushing. 

For older children, you might consider examples, such as The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist. This story can help soothe any anxiety your child might feel about undergoing dental care.

Lead by Example

For better or worse, your children learn from what you do. This means that your approach and attitude toward oral hygiene will be one of the largest factors in how your child sees it. When you implement the right practices yourself and make sure your child sees you doing so, you have a higher chance of leaving a lasting positive impact.

Family brushing time is one of the best ways to achieve this aim. Brush your teeth at the same time that your child brushes their teeth. This routine establishes that brushing and flossing are actions that everyone does, not just some unpleasant burden on children.

When it comes to dealing with the dentist, try to exude an atmosphere of confidence, even if you face some level of dental anxiety. Your reaction to visiting the dentist will color the experience for your child, so be conscious of that. 

It can also help to be open about your own dental issues. This gives your child the opportunity to see how you handle problems such as cavities.

Regular Dental Visits

Dental anxiety is common among children. However, you can limit that by bringing them to the dentist early and often. Your child’s first visit should be within six months of the first tooth appearing or by one year of age, whichever comes first. After that, you should bring them in every six months for a routine visit.

Missing regular appointments for an extended period will make the dentist an unfamiliar experience. Your child will also be more likely to have developed oral health issues during that time. As a result, your child will view dentistry as an especially unpleasant experience, and they will be deeply anxious about it.

They may carry this into adulthood, leading them to face a lifetime of poor oral health. Instead, make visiting the dentist a familiar and routine experience your child doesn’t have to think twice about.

Be proactive about your child’s oral health.

Taking the time to create an engaging education experience for your children will help them enjoy better oral health and development today and for years to come. Along with putting these tips into action, you can always ask your trusted Milford dentist at CinciSmiles for specific advice. Schedule your child’s next appointment today.