Beginning in infancy, teach your child the importance of healthy oral habits. Start by cleaning your baby’s gums with a clean cloth moistened with plain water. When teething starts, gently clean newly emerging teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush, adding a tiny dab of toothpaste when they are about 12 months. As they grow, there are things you can do to make it fun for them as they learn the skills to last a lifetime:
–Let your child watch you brush your teeth regularly and even consider making it a nightly family ritual. As your child’s first teacher and role model, getting in on the fun will delight and rub off on them. Not only that, but young children love to mimic, so make this a game and they will be hooked!
–Young children are motivated by pleasure rather than necessity and respond well to cute, silly songs about fighting the “plaque monsters” and “cavity creatures”. Having fun while learning makes them forget that this is lifetime skill they are actually developing.
–Another motivating game is to set up a rewards chart for them to use while they keep track of daily brushing time. Because they need to learn to brush for at least two minutes, it can be fun for them to have a kid-friendly timer for them to set and follow. This allows them to track their “success” and if you offer them small rewards this gives them added motivation to work towards something fun.
–Letting your child pick out their own toothbrush will add to their willingness to brush. There are character-themed children’s toothbrushes ranging from Sponge Bob to Minnie Mouse. Make sure it is soft-bristled and has the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance on it to ensure that it is safe and effective.
–Many adult toothpastes are too strong flavored for tiny taste buds. Kid-friendly flavors include bubblegum, strawberry and orange, so check for the ADA Seal on the label and you are good to go.
–Flossing should begin when your child has at least two teeth that are touching. Until they develop fine motor skills you will need to help them floss. Once they are ready to floss themselves, help them by providing hand-held flossers. They are easy to use and effective at reaching the hard-to-reach molars.
For a lifetime of healthy smiles, passing on the gift of healthy oral habits will be one of the most rewarding skills you can give them. If you have any questions, or to schedule an appointment, please call our Lifetime Dentistry team at 563-263-9082 today.