5 tips for teaching oral health to children
Teaching oral hygiene is an important part of raising children. Dentists agree that one of the most effective ways to create a healthy brushing routine is to teach children the importance of oral hygiene at an early age.
1. Start early
Parents can start taking care of their children's smile before the first tooth appears. Wiping or brushing the gums with a damp washcloth or soft toothbrush is a great way to wipe away germs.
Once the first tooth appears, you can start brushing with a soft toothbrush and a toothpaste made for babies. The earlier you start, the less likely the child is to resent having his or her teeth brushed.
2. Familiarize your child with the dentist
Many adults dread going to the dentist, but it doesn't have to be this way. Teaching children from an early age that the dentist is a safe place is a great way to keep them from fearing those necessary checkups. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child's first dental visit occurs around the first birthday.
3. Lead by example
It's no secret that children learn by example. They want to do everything that they see adults doing. Once they're old enough to start brushing and flossing themselves, they will enjoy following the routine just like their parents.
4. Make it fun
Kids often have a short attention span, and once the newness of the routine wears off, it may be hard to keep them interested. This is the time to get creative. Use a game or a song to make brushing something that your child looks forward to. For example, give them a sticker to put on the calendar each day after brushing, or make up a fun song to sing while they brush. The possibilities are endless.
5. Show them the consequences
Teach them what happens if they do not follow a proper oral health and hygiene regimen. Better yet, show them. Children are visual learners. Showing them images of rotten and damaged teeth due to poor oral hygiene may go a lot further than just telling them it's important.