As a parent, you want your kids to grow up healthy and strong, and it is your responsibility to help them get there. Maintaining good dental health is an important aspect of your child’s health and wellness, so it is crucial that you teach them how to keep their mouth healthy. Here are some easy tips to help you inspire good dental health habits in your kids that will stick with them for the rest of their lives.
1. Start Dental Care When They’re Young
Your child’s dental care should start before their first tooth has even come in. To start getting your baby used to dental care and teeth brushing, you can begin by just gently wiping their gums. This will familiarize your child with the process of cleaning their mouth. As their teeth start to come in, move on to gently brushing their teeth with a little toothbrush. The earlier you start cleaning your child’s mouth, the easier it will be to get them used to the idea that their teeth and gums should be cleaned every day.
At-home dental care is not the only thing that should be started early. It’s a good idea to take your child to see the dentist early on so that they can become familiar with the dentist’s office and what it’s like to have someone looking around their mouth during a checkup. It is typically recommended that you should take your baby to their first dentist visit before their first birthday or within six months after their first tooth erupts. This will get your child used to regular dental checkups and cause them to see dental visits as just something they do without question.
2. Let Them Watch You
Kids learn by watching and mimicking their parents. If your children see you taking good care of your teeth by brushing and flossing each day, then they will want to copy you and will do the same. Let your kids watch you brush twice a day for at least two minutes and floss once a day so that they can see what healthy dental habits look like. Show them how you do it, then let them try doing the same for themselves. Since young children will not have the dexterity to get their toothbrush to all tooth surfaces, it’s a good idea to brush your child’s teeth after they do to make sure everything is getting cleaned. By the time they are 8 years old, your child should have the ability to clean their teeth on their own and should no longer need your assistance.
In addition to showing your kids good dental health habits, you should also tell them why dental care is important to you and your daily routine. Then go on to teach them why it should be a part of their daily routine as well so that their teeth can stay healthy and beautiful. This will reinforce good dental habits that will stick with them for years to come.
3. Make Dental Care Routines Fun
Children are more likely to stick to a dental care routine if they can use fun and high-tech products, such as a fun-shaped toothbrush that has their favorite cartoon character on it, an electric toothbrush that has a built-in timer or plays music as they brush, or a water flosser that minimizes the amount of time it takes to floss their teeth. If your child doesn’t like the taste of mint, get them a kid-friendly toothpaste in a flavor they like.
A daily dental routine can be boring for kids, so try turning it into a fun time that they will look forward to each day. Play your child’s favorite song and have a mini jam session while they brush their teeth. If the song is two minutes or more, then it will be easier to make sure they are brushing their teeth for the dentist-recommended length of time. Turning your child’s dental routine into a fun event will make them more likely to stick to the routine as they get older.
4. Have a Seat
If you find it challenging to get your child to stand still for a whole two minutes to brush their teeth, have them take a seat. Sitting down will help your child stay still and focus on brushing their teeth. There’s no rule that says you have to brush your teeth in the bathroom, so bring your child to the couch or bed to sit on while they brush their teeth. If you can get your kids to sit still and brush their teeth for the correct length of time when they are young, then they will be more likely to continue this good dental health habit in the future.
5. Teach Your Kids to Eat Healthy Foods
In addition to brushing and flossing, a healthy diet is crucial to maintaining good dental health. To inspire this healthy habit in your kids, you need to show by example and start early. Try to reduce the amount of sugary, starchy, and processed foods and drinks your kids consume. Instead, serve your family foods that are filled with natural ingredients, including fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Encourage your children to drink water instead of sugary and carbonated beverages. If you teach your children to eat healthy foods when they are young, they will likely continue eating a healthy diet when they are older. If you let your kids get too used to eating unhealthy foods early on, it will be difficult to undo those bad eating habits that can prove disastrous for their teeth.
6. Make Dentist Appointments Family Events
Kids can sometimes get overwhelmed and stressed during dentist appointments, especially if they have to do it alone. To make going to the dentist less stressful, make it a family affair. Try to schedule your child’s dentist appointment when you have yours so that you can experience it together. Your child won’t feel like they are doing it alone, and they can watch you and see that dentist appointments aren’t a big deal or something they should fear. This gives you another chance to lead by example, showing your child that you go to the dentist regularly and that they should, too. By making the experience less intimidating in this way, your child will be less likely to develop a fear of the dentist and will not mind regular dental care appointments in the future.
Family Dentistry at University General Dentists in Knoxville, TN
When you are trying to inspire healthy dental habits in your kids, regular trips to the dentist should be an integral part of their dental care regimen. Here at University General Dentists, we provide family dentistry services to help keep your and your children’s smiles healthy and strong. We believe that great experiences at the dentist at a young age create the foundation for future dental health. We provide everything from developmental checkups and age-appropriate hygiene to preventative measures and dental repairs. Our family dentistry team provides gentle, compassionate dental care and will teach your child about their teeth and how they can take care of them. Family dentistry means we can provide care for you as well, so your kids will be able to see you go through the same types of dentist appointments as them. If you are ready to help your child develop strong dental habits that will stick with them for the rest of their life, schedule a dentist appointment for you and your child at University General Dentists. We have two convenient Knoxville dentist locations. Schedule an appointment at our University of Tennessee Medical Center office at 865-305-9440 or our West Knoxville office at 865-500-5700.