Practicing correct oral hygiene is the foundation of good oral health at any age. As soon as teeth emerge, parents should begin brushing them until children are able to brush for themselves. Normally by the age of four, children should be brushing on their own. Many parents ask our dentists for tips on establishing healthy oral hygiene habits with their kids, and our team is happy to help. Following are some easy tips for encouraging toddlers to brush.
Practice Oral Hygiene Together
Toddlers enjoy mimicking their parents. From holding a cup of water on their own to helping with minor household chores, toddlers take pride in learning new things and doing tasks for themselves. Since youngsters mimic their parents’ behaviors and enjoy taking the reins on some activities, parents can establish the importance of brushing with their children by making oral hygiene a family event. Not only will this help convey the message that oral hygiene is important, it will assist with establishing a routine. Beyond brushing properly and thoroughly, consistency is essential for preventing plaque buildup and controlling oral bacteria.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement goes a long way with kids. A simple pat on the back, or words of encouragement can make what seems like a mundane task much more enjoyable for children. To us an adult, brushing our teeth really isn’t praise-worthy, but it is for kids. Toddlers thrive on praise and recognition so feel free to give hugs and high fives after your child brushes his or her teeth.
Turn Brushing into a Game
Liven up oral hygiene time with a game-like atmosphere. For example, create a weekly chart with different accomplishments for which stickers or check marks can be placed. Objectives like remembering to brush without a reminder or brushing for the appropriate amount of time (two minutes) for each day of the week can be listed on the chart. At the end of the week, total up the stickers and have different rewards for their totals. Rewards like an extra 30 minutes at the park or renting a family-friendly movie on the weekend make for great motivation.
Call our office for more tips or to schedule a checkup with our dentists!