February 27, 2019
We often see that one of the biggest challenges faced by parents is maintaining their children's oral hygiene. With our busy schedules, sometimes the last thing we have time for is brushing and flossing our children’s teeth. Even the thought of brushing our child’s teeth properly can be stressful! Here are some practical tips to improve your children’s oral health and make the experience more enjoyable for both of you:
We can get our kids in the routine of brushing their teeth by cleaning their mouths with a moist cloth or toy “brush” before they even have their first tooth. When the first tooth erupts, get them interested in cleaning it by making their brushing routine interactive at an early age. For your toddlers, you could let them play dentist and brush their stuffed animals' “teeth” to get them interested in dental routines.
There are several electric toothbrushes available for kids. For example, the Phillips Sonicare for Kids has a smaller “kid sized” head and comes in bright colors and has a pack of stickers that they can decorate their toothbrush with. This will personalized their toothbrush, and more importantly it does a great job at both removing dental plaque bacteria and ensures that they brush for a full two minutes. That is a long time for a child (and sometimes even adults)! The reward for brushing the entire two minutes is an item for their “Sparkly,” a virtual pet they can play with on the accompanying smartphone app. To learn more, check out https://www.philips.ca/c-p/HX6321_02/sonicare-for-kids-sonic-electric-toothbrush.
Children will be more likely to take ownership of their own dental health if they are allowed to participate and make choices for themselves. Your child could be in charge of putting the toothpaste on their toothbrush (make sure it is only a pea sized amount). Making choices such as picking out their toothpaste or toothbrush at the store gives them a sense of ownership.
Kids like to copy adult behaviour so why not try involving them in your own dental routine? Your children learn from you, so set a good example. The family that brushes together has even more reasons to smile.
Brushing their teeth to a fun song could liven the mood while brushing. They could choose their “brushing song” which also creates routine. Using a reward system such as stickers, choosing their own bedtime story, or working towards a bigger reward could be motivating. Pretending you are brushing away “sugar bugs” might engage their imagination. Getting your child to pretend they are an animal, such as a tiger, encourages them to open wide for brushing! Anything that gets them to use their imagination will make tooth brushing seem more fun and less like a chore.
Cultivating and modelling good oral health habits will greatly help your children get a good start for lifelong well maintained teeth and gums!