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How to Help Your Child Build Good Dental Habits
Good dental hygiene is important amongst children. Sadly, as most parents would know, this is one thing that is challenging to instill in the little ones. Asking them to brush their teeth can already be a struggle!
However, with a proactive and patient approach, it is possible to teach children how to take care of their oral health. The secret here is to start as early as possible, and it is likely that they will pick the habit as they grow up.
Tips for Helping Little Ones Build Good Dental Health Habits
Even at a young age, prioritizing a baby’s oral development is crucial. As they grow older, such becomes more important since issues like tooth decay can become more apparent. Here are some of the best things to do.
1. Visit the Dentist Regularly
A regular dental visit is one of the best ways to help kids build good dental habits. If you start them early, they will know how crucial such a visit is. Plus, this will also minimize the chances of being afraid of the dentist as they grow up.
Your child’s first tooth appears within six to eight months. Its eruption is a sign that you should bring your kid to the dentist for the first time. From then on, a regular visit is a must every six months.
During these visits, the dentist will perform the necessary exams and treatments while also providing valuable advice. One of these treatments is fluoride varnish. This will be applied to the primary teeth of infants as young as six months. The effects of fluoride varnish include strengthening the tooth enamel and preventing dental caries. Even in adults, such a treatment is a must.
2. Have a Healthy Diet
Get your kids excited to eat healthy food. This habit is good not only for their teeth but also for their overall health. Giving them sweet treats will not hurt if you do so only occasionally. Otherwise, it can contribute to tooth decay.
See to it that they eat fruits and vegetables, although you might want to go easy on those with high acid content as they can contribute to enamel erosion. Calcium is also a must-have in their diet, which will make their teeth stronger. Do not wait before it is too late to introduce them to a healthy diet.
3. Pick the Right Toothbrush
One of the most important good dental habits in children is toothbrushing. Like adults, they should do so twice a day. However, it can be a struggle. A good way to make them love it is to choose the right toothbrush, so they will look forward to the time that they will be using it.
The goal is to give them a toothbrush that they can hold and use easily. So, pick one with a small head and a handle big enough for their hands. A good grip is also essential. Also, find one with colors that they will love.
4. Make Tooth Brushing Fun
It is not enough to buy a good toothbrush. A lot of times, they can still be too lazy to brush their teeth. A good solution is to brush with them. This will also give you the chance to teach them the proper way of doing it.
Another way to make it fun is to play music, making it a more engaging activity. You can also play their favorite videos while they brush their teeth. Choose songs or videos with a length of at least two minutes, which is the recommended time for toothbrushing.
5. Read Books About Dental Health
Most parents will read books to their children, especially before going to bed. While there is a long list of kid-friendly books, make sure that you have titles related to dental health. These are books that will teach kids how to take care of their teeth in a fun and engaging way. You can also find books that will give them a glimpse of what happens during a dental visit.
Because these books are for kids, the priority is to make them fun. Look for those that are big enough for them to see what is printed. Of course, colorful characters are non-negotiable. Some will even have music, so it is easier to have the attention of the little ones.
6. Reward Positive Behavior
When they do something nice, reward them. However, you should go easy on this as they might expect a reward for every positive behavior that they show. It does not mean giving them candy every time they brush their teeth. Such will defeat the purpose of what you are doing.
A good way to reward kids is to give them a treat after a dental visit. If they are scared or apprehensive, let them know that you will go out to eat after. A small toy can also do the trick. Give something that they will be excited about.
Rewards don’t always have to be “things.” Praise them for doing a great job. This will reinforce the positive behavior they have just done.
7. Do What You Preach
Responsible parents are role models to their children. Even when it comes to oral health, you should model good habits by doing what you preach. So, if you tell them to brush their teeth twice a day, make sure that you do the same thing. Do it with them so they will know that you practice what you teach them.
One of the most difficult things to do when being a role model to children is healthy eating. When you are in front of them, eat the same things that you want them to eat. That means staying away from junk food that you do not like kids to consume.
From a regular visit to the dentist to making tooth brushing fun, we talked about some of the most effective ways to help children have good dental habits. It may not be easy, but with the right strategies, you can help them model a positive behavior that will be beneficial in the long term.