“NO!” is a pretty common word to hear when it’s time for kids to brush teeth. Parents and babysitters alike know the struggles that morning and bedtime routines can bring, and much of the tedium can take place at the bathroom sink. We know how important maintaining healthy teeth and gums are, and want that knowledge to resonate with our kids. With these three steps, children will be well on their way to make brushing and flossing time a breeze.
1. Create Dialogue Surrounding Teeth
Children are wonderfully curious, and it is very likely that they will love to engage in conversations about teeth. A great starting point is talking about the “why” of taking care of your teeth. Explaining why we brush our teeth is far more effective than saying “Because I said so!” Always keep questions at the forefront of the dialogue. Challenge a child’s thinking by consistently asking questions: What do we use our teeth for? Why are they so important? How can we protect them?
Maintain conversations about the importance of brushing teeth, and set yourself as the example. Say out loud things like, “That donut was so good! I’ll need to brush my teeth since it was sugary.” Continue dialogue by bringing home books on brushing teeth for children – there are so many out there! Kids will be on a great path when they view brushing their teeth as adults do: a normal part of life.
2. Build a Scheduled Routine
Having a routine for brushing teeth is essential to maintaining healthy dental habits, yet there’s often one critical part that people oftenmiss. When building a routine for brushing teeth, strive for order, not time. There will be nights where bedtime is earlier or later than usual, so plan with your child about a good place in morning and nighttime routines to brush teeth.
Ask limited option questions, like “Do you prefer brushing your teeth before getting dressed or after?” to help build an order they can get accustomed to. Keeping this flexibility will be more manageable, and easier for your child to become more automatic in their habit. Remember to use some form of consistent positive feedback to help them succeed! Give specific compliments, or create a special handshake to celebrate after they brush their teeth. Sticker charts are super visual, and once one is filled up, feel free to up the stakes the next time around as needed.
3. Regularly Visit the Dentist
Check with your child’s dentist or pediatrician about frequency of dental visits. The dentist is not only the prime example of maintaining healthy teeth, but is essential for contributing to building lifelong habits. Dentists are the perfect people to chime in on the importance of your child’s dental habits! Not to mention, if children are accustomed to yearly visits to the dentist, they are likely to continue these habits into adulthood.
At M Dental, we know how important healthy dental habits are, and we are passionate about helping you establish these habits for your family. From childhood to adulthood, we are here to make your smile more than worthwhile. Call us to set up a dental appointment today!