The American Dental Association (ADA) promotes good oral health for children throughout February with National Children’s Dental Health Month. Dr. Kateryna Grytsenko and Dr. Yuliya Kanatova and their dedicated staff at Union Square Dental understand the challenges parents face when it comes to helping kids develop crucial habits that lead to lifelong dental health.
We offer pediatric dentistry, including first checkups and regular visits, and work to make sure your child’s experience is positive. Along with those services, here are some tips that may help you encourage good dental hygiene habits at home.
1. Go shopping
Letting your child choose their own, special toothbrush and toothpaste gives them some ownership and a sense of control about taking care of their teeth. You’ll want to make sure they choose a soft-bristled toothbrush that is the right size for their mouth and toothpaste with fluoride.
Having a toothbrush and toothpaste they chose can lend some excitement to brushing!
2. Make sure they see you brushing and flossing
Kids pay attention, and if they see you regularly brushing and flossing, they will understand that it’s a daily task. Plus, you can model good technique, by brushing for at least two minutes and flossing each day.
3. Have a practice session
Use a doll or stuffed animal for practice. This gives your child a chance to hold the toothbrush and builds comfort with the process.
4. Visit the library
Reading books about brushing and flossing and good dental health is another way to reinforce the importance of daily dental hygiene. There are plenty of stories featuring well-known characters brushing.
You might also look for videos or cartoons about good habits for your child to watch. Exposing them to the idea that brushing and flossing are fun can help.
5. Turn on the tunes
Your child should become accustomed to brushing for two minutes at a time. One way to help them know how long to brush is to find a two minute song to listen to while brushing.
You might also set a timer for two minutes, turn on some fun music for dancing and brush during a dance party.
6. Build a routine
When brushing and flossing are part of a normal routine, there’s no question about making sure they get done. It can take awhile, but it’s worth the effort. Creating a set of actions that go together, such as having breakfast, brushing teeth, washing hands and face, and getting dressed each morning cements the habit.
7. Create a system of rewards
Sometimes you need more than intrinsic motivation. Children don’t really understand what it means when you say “your teeth need to last a lifetime, so take care of them!”
If you’re struggling to get your kids to brush and floss daily, set up a system of rewards. We suggest, however, avoiding a sugary treat like candy as the reward!
8. Together time
Sometimes the best way to make sure your child brushes and flosses is for you to brush and floss with them. When you do, you model the behavior, demonstrate good technique, and you can keep an eye on how your child brushes and for how long.
9. Come see us
One of the most important and often neglected elements of building good oral health habits in children is making visits to the dentist normal. Many adults have fear about visiting the dentist, but if your child sees the dentist regularly from a very early age, they will understand there’s nothing to fear!
We suggest an oral screening around the age of one, and regular visits thereafter. Our team is wonderful with children, and we’d love to see yours in our office. Schedule your appointment today at Union Square Dental today and let’s celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month!