Teaching Kids About Dental Hygiene
According to the Canadian Dental Association, you should start brushing your kids’ teeth as soon as their first tooth appears. It’s also recommended that children have a hand in their own dental hygiene as soon as they can hold a toothbrush. By teaching kids to maintain adequate oral health habits, you’re setting them up to have healthy and strong teeth for a lifetime.
Components of proper oral hygiene
As soon as possible, teach your children about these important aspects of taking care of their teeth:
- Brushing. Until your child is about six, they’ll need your help to brush their teeth. Twice a day, spend at least two minutes brushing the teeth and gums in a gentle circular motion using a soft-bristled toothbrush. In most cases, fluoridated toothpaste should be used.
- Flossing. Start flossing your kid’s teeth when their teeth start to touch one another. When they’re old enough, let them practice using flossing picks, which are easier to master than string floss.
- Dentist visits. Your child’s first dentist appointment should be around the age of one, or six months after their first tooth has erupted. Your children’s dentist will offer teeth brushing tips for your kids and spot problems before they turn into bigger issues. Kids should see their dentist once every six months.
- Proper diet. Teach your kids the importance of making healthy eating choices by explaining how sugars attack their teeth. Suggest they drink water instead of juice and snack on fresh fruits and vegetables instead of starchy breads and cookies.
How to make it fun for kids
Teaching kids good oral health habits doesn’t have to be boring. Here are a few tips to help get them excited about taking care of their teeth.
- Let them choose their own toothbrush. Brushes are available in many different colours and styles. Some even have a light or timer that tells your kids how long they need to brush.
- Let them pick their toothpaste. The mint paste many adults love is often too strong for children. Allow them to pick a flavour they’ll enjoy.
- Brush your teeth with them. Show them that oral hygiene is something that everyone does. Additionally, kids love to imitate their parents.
- Read books or watch videos about oral hygiene. Sometimes hearing information from a favourite cartoon character has more impact than hearing it from parents.
- Take turns brushing each other’s teeth. Toddlers especially will love to brush your teeth just like you brush theirs.