Dental health is incredibly crucial to one’s overall well-being, and remains one of the most neglected aspects of modern day healthcare - nearly 40 million Americans are estimated to be missing all their teeth - which means keeping your teeth clean and intact requires education and regular maintenance.
But kids don’t necessarily appreciate the significance of dental hygiene, and parents often struggle with getting their kids to brush their teeth long enough or frequently enough. Brushing and flossing isn’t just to keep teeth pretty and white - it’s essential to minimize plaque and tartar development, cavities, gum disease and any other number of issues that plague millions of people with inadequate access to dental healthcare.
Kids don’t respond to statistics, however - they respond to routine, example and play time. Here are some tips on how to impart good dental hygiene on your kids, to ensure that they keep their teeth healthy and intact for decades to come.
Lead by example
Kids learn by observing the world around them, and they’re very quick to look for excuses. If they see that you don’t brush and floss your teeth regularly, they’re not going to take your warnings seriously. They develop an understanding of what is normal by observing how adults behave, so if you don’t brush your teeth regularly, they’ll think it’s normal not to.
If you’re not already on top of your own dental hygiene, make a point to brush your teeth after every meal or twice a day, and bring your kids into the bathroom when you do it. Talk about how often you brush your teeth, remind them throughout the day that you have to brush your teeth and make it a priority to include teeth brushing in your schedule both morning and night so they can see that brushing teeth regularly is a critical part of a daily routine, not an optional task.
Make dental hygiene a family affair
Making an effort to keep your own dental hygiene a well-announced and demonstrated part of your daily task will help reinforce the habit with your children. Allow them to participate in your own routine as often as possible.
For example, instead of brushing your teeth before your wake your kids up for school, wait until you get them up and then brush, maybe even with the bathroom door open, so they can literally see by example. Keep floss available in all bathrooms in your house, and carry portable floss sticks in your purse or pocket so you can floss after meals and demonstrate the importance of flossing regularly to your kids.
Brushing your teeth with your children by your side, particularly if they’re young, allows them to see how long and how vigorously you need to brush to accomplish the task correctly. You don’t need to make every session a lesson where you explain why you’re doing this and that - you just need to let them see that brushing teeth takes about a minute, so they can learn what’s expected of them.
Make daily tasks a fun activity
Although educating your kids and leading by example, like a Vancouver SEO company, are prime ways to help encourage dental hygiene, giving them the opportunity to find some entertainment in the process helps too. Making games out of the process - providing a rewards chart for brushing teeth throughout the day, creating songs to time the length of teeth brushing, making a game out of flossing in between every tooth and even allowing your children to select their own toothbrushes and toothpaste can all make dental hygiene feel like a fun game instead of a daily chore.
Children learn best through play, and a task that seems fun to them won’t be a daily battle. Look for character toothbrushes and toothpaste with mild flavors like bubble gum to entice them to the bathroom. Getting your kids to brush their teeth regularly can feel like an immense chore if you treat it like an immense chore. But if everyone in the family demonstrates a positive and playful attitude around teeth-brushing, your kids will learn by example. As they age, they’ll shed some of the childishness around tooth brushing, but they’ll maintain the routine that protects their dental hygiene for decades to come.