There’s nothing more exciting than the eruption of your baby’s first primary teeth, especially after weeks of drooly and intensive teething. These early pearly whites don’t just signify an approaching readiness for solid foods; they’re the beginning of a lifelong need for proper and consistent oral health care.
Your child needs continued help with brushing and flossing until they’re old enough to do it properly themselves.
The average youngster requires ongoing oral hygiene supervision and occasional help with brushing until they’re about 6 years old, and most kids can’t effectively floss on their own until the age of 8.
It’s a whole lot easier to help your child build good dental care skills and habits when they’re excited about preserving their oral health. Take a moment as Dr. Quang Tran and our team at Smiles in Springfield offer four concrete tips that can help you foster enthusiasm for oral care through childhood and beyond.
1. Make daily brushing more enjoyable
Kids don’t have a lot of responsibilities in life, but one thing is certain: They’re more likely to approach the ones they do have with enthusiasm when routine tasks are enjoyable. To make daily brushing and flossing feel less “obligatory” and more fun for your young child, you might:
- Provide a colorful, child-friendly toothbrush with an easy-grip handle
- Offer an electric toothbrush, or one that features a favorite character
- Provide pediatric toothpaste with an appealing flavor like strawberry or grape
- Simplify early flossing lessons with floss picks (rather than using string floss)
Let your young child choose their toothbrush and toothpaste flavor from a selection you’ve already pre-approved, ensuring each toothbrush option has soft bristles, and every toothpaste option has the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance.
2. Establish automatic, habit-building prompts
Daily habits grow automatic with time, practice, and perhaps most importantly, your prompting. A prompt is something that leads to a routine, or a predetermined set of actions.
One easy way to help your child get into the automatic habit of brushing and flossing is by having them do it at the same times each day.
You may ask them to brush after breakfast but before they get dressed, so that when they do get dressed, they’re free to play or head to school. In the evening, you may have them brush after they get into their pajamas, but before their bedtime story.
Establishing a consistent oral hygiene time frame makes it easier for them to create automatic oral care habits.
Habit-building prompts can also be fun: To encourage proper brushing time, play a two-minute song.
If your child enjoys technology, several helpful apps aim to make oral care easier and more enjoyable for kids. Your child can track daily brushing, set timers, play music, and watch animated instructional videos.
3. Practice oral health habits together
To borrow a phrase, the family that brushes and flosses together, has healthier teeth and gums and far fewer cavities! Whether your kids attend to their oral hygiene together or your entire family brushes at the same time, a routine daily task becomes more enjoyable with company.
Brushing with your kids has other benefits too. It’s easier to supervise your child’s developing dental skills (and help them improve) if you’re with them each time they brush.
Family oral hygiene time also gives you a great opportunity to model consistent oral care habits, making it that much easier to help your child establish solid habits and a consistent routine for life.
4. Set them up for fun, stress-free dental visits
Routine dental cleanings and checkups are a vital part of preventive oral health care starting in early childhood (usually within six months of their first tooth coming in). Having twice-yearly dental exams helps ensure decay is caught early and treated right away.
It’s also the perfect occasion for Dr. Tran to:
- Show your child where their brushing habits may fall short, and offer advice
- Boost your child’s confidence when they have a stellar, cavity-free checkup
- Empower your child with age-appropriate dental tips and oral care awareness
If your young child is anxious about dental visits, you can help set them up for a stress-free, enjoyable appointment with a little advanced preparation.
Head to the library and check out a few picture books about going to the dentist, or “play dentist” with a favorite doll or stuffed animal to help them understand what to expect. Kids of all ages get more excited about the dentist when you plan a fun, post-dentist outing or activity as a reward for a job well done.
To schedule your child’s next checkup with Dr. Tran and our team at Smiles in Springfield in Springfield, Virginia, call 703-634-4239 today.