Teaching your children about proper dental care may seem a daunting task, but it’s a necessary one. Giving your child the tools and the know-how to take care of their teeth is something that will benefit them their entire lives. Though tooth decay is a largely preventable issue, it proves a serious problem among young children. Nearly 25% of all 5 year olds in England have tooth decay, and on average it is not just single teeth, but 3 or 4, that are affected. In fact, one of the most common procedures undergone by children under 6 in hospital is tooth extraction, and extraction is the most common reason for admission to hospital in children aged 6 to 10. Good oral hygiene can help protect them from a host of health issues and give them the benefit of a beautiful smile. And what’s more, it doesn’t have to be a boring lesson to learn, or a hard-going process. If you’re not sure where to start, try these tips and tricks to get your child on the path to lifelong oral health.
The most simple and most obvious method is to lead by example. Small children are prone to mimicking the behaviour of their parents, and tooth-brushing is no exception. Allow them into the bathroom to watch you brush your teeth, and if you really want to sell it, act as if you’re having a great time doing it. It also helps to talk them through each step, verbalising what you’re doing in a way that they can understand. Providing meaningful commentary can help teach them the correct techniques.
Being playful is also a good way to teach children good oral health practices. Have them brush the teeth of their dolls or toys. Never underestimate a child’s competitive spirit or love of games – if you can, introduce an element of contest into the act of toothbrushing. Even just playing music will make it more fun, and help to enforce the idea of a 2 minute brushing duration. Colgate have a lot of fun dental game ideas to make brushing fun, rather than a chore.
Let them pick their own toothbrush. With the array of character-themed children’s toothbrushes available today your child is sure to find a brush they’ll be excited to use. Flavoured toothpastes can also go a long way to help get your child excited about oral hygiene, but you should aim to be using a toothpaste containing 1350-1500 parts per million fluoride (ppmF) – the amount of fluoride in a toothpaste can be found on the side of the tube.
Healthy eating is important too – oral health goes beyond just brushing. Try to cut down on high-sugar foods and drinks, and encourage your child to eat a healthy balanced diet rich in fruit, veg and starchy foods, with some proteins and dairy products, but low in fat, sugar and sodium.
Reward good behaviour. Use a brushing chart (you can find plenty of these free to download online!) to track the developing habit, and hang it up by the sink to serve as a visual reminder. At the end of each week, give a small reward for brushing every day. Positive reinforcement is great, so react to slip ups with kindness and encouragement.
Regular dental check-ups are a necessity. Try not to tell your child about the dentist in a manner that will frighten them: avoid terms like “drill” or “hurt”, and instead reinforce through positive language why regular visits are so important. We’ll ensure your child’s teeth are healthy and evaluate how well they’re getting on with brushing, and educate both you and your child on the best ways to stay on top of oral hygiene. Remember, you’re not alone in managing your child’s oral health, and we’re always here to lend support.
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