Helping your child grow up healthy includes setting the stage for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. While you can take the at-home dental hygiene reins for a few years, by the time your child reaches school age, he or she needs to take more responsibility for daily brushing and flossing. Motivating your child to not only clean their teeth but value their teeth can seem like a daunting task, but these three steps can make the process a bit easier.
1. Make Oral Hygiene Easy
When purchasing dental hygiene products for your kids, bear in mind that they have limited dexterity, smaller hands and mouths, and more sensitive palates than adults. Adult-sized toothbrushes, traditional dental floss, and harsh, minty toothpastes and mouthwashes are ill-suited for younger smiles and will only result in frustration. Buy products geared toward children in bright colors, smaller sizes, and milder, fruity flavors.
2. Make Oral Hygiene Something They Want to Do
Tooth brushing time can be a special time if you take a few simple steps to make it fun. After dinner, take the time to floss and brush your teeth with your child. They’ll look forward to spending that special time together just with you. Have your child choose a favorite song and play it on a stereo or mobile device while they’re brushing.
3. Make Oral Hygiene Rewarding
Positive reinforcement works and it can take many forms, depending on the age of your child:
- Younger children: Pull out construction paper, glitter glue, and washable markers and create a tooth brushing chart. You can use this kid’s brushing chart from Colgate as a guide. Be sure to keep fun stickers on hand and let your child keep track of how often they brush and floss. After collecting a certain number of stickers, have non-food prizes on hand as a reward.
- Older children and teens: They may have outgrown sticker charts, but they haven’t outgrown the desire for mom’s and dad’s approval (no matter how blasé they act outwardly). Let your older child know verbally that you’re proud of their good oral health habits. Visits to the dentist with no cavities (or that successfully meets another oral health goal) can be rewarded with a gift card for a new mobile app or a trip to the bookstore.
About Brad Greenfield, DDS
Dr. Brad Greenfield practices family, restorative, cosmetic, and sedation dentistry with a holistic approach to patient care and comfort. To schedule an appointment with your 48360 dentist, call (248) 693-6213. We proudly serve patients of all ages in Clarkston, Auburn Hills, Oxford, Rochester Hills, and neighboring communities.