For many parents, teaching and practicing great oral hygiene with their children can be a twice daily battle. But any dentist will tell you, it’s worth the time and effort. Though largely preventable, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children aged 6 to 19. There have been links between poor oral hygiene and speech delays, dental pain, infections and diabetes. Starting proper dental care and education early is the best way to encourage and achieve excellent oral hygiene in children. 

There are lots of ways to engage your children in caring for their teeth and gums, from making it into a game to creating sticker reward charts. In this article we will explore 5 different strategies to make brushing and flossing easy and effective for children of all ages.

Start Early: The first and likely the most important strategy is to start tooth brushing young. Dentists recommend wiping gums with a wet washcloth once a day before your baby’s first tooth has even erupted. Once the first teeth have come in, switch to a soft brush, and start flossing once teeth are touching, usually around 2-3 years old. It is also recommended to schedule an appointment to see the dentist before your child’s first birthday regardless of how many teeth they have. 

Lead by Example: Children learn from what they see, and that’s true for teaching hygiene as well. Emulating their parents is a timeless pastime of children everywhere, so when a child sees their parents flossing, they are more likely to be agreeable to flossing themselves. You can also pretend to be a mirror, and have your child copy your movements, and then switch and you copy them. 

Use the Best Tools: Always use age-appropriate tools as brushing and flossing can often be difficult for little hands and mouths. Look for toddler and child sized brushes and flossers with rounded edges. Powered toothbrushes mimic little circles and can help give kids the boost they need to effectively remove as much plaque as possible. Toothbrushes are now made in almost every colour and with many options to have your child’s favourite animal or cartoon character on them, it’s a great idea to let your child choose their favourite. 

Make a Game Out of It: No matter your age, it is recommended that you brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day. Research has proven that the longer you brush the more plaque is removed. Making tooth brushing into a game is the great way to pass the time and help your child feel excited about the activity. Whether it’s playing your child’s favourite song, setting a timer or making an imaginative game about the Hero toothbrush defeating the terrible bad guys Plaque and Gingivitis, engaging in play is a great way to get the job done.

Get backup from Beloved Characters: A quick Google or YouTube search will generate thousands of videos aimed to encourage children to brush their teeth. Whether your child loves Elmo or Paw Patrol; there are many fun videos featuring popular characters that could help make your child more excited about brushing and flossing. 

Good oral hygiene is imperative to the health and wellness of a child, but practicing excellent hygiene can often be a struggle for children and their parents. With a little bit of imagination and extra attention, children can learn to love and be proud of caring for their teeth and gums, and will look forward to their regular dentist visits. At Stongate Dental we are committed to helping you and your child achieve and maintain great oral health. Our friendly staff at our Guelph Dentist Office look forward to making your visits comfortable and efficient. Call us to book your child’s check up and cleaning today! 

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