Tips For Helping Your Child Develop Good Dental Habits

One of the most important things you can do for your children is to help them develop good dental habits. Without this foundation, they can face years of more expensive dental procedures and even restorative dentistry because of gum disease and tooth decay. Here are some tips to help you make tooth care a natural habit for your child. 

1. Start brushing during infanthood.

Many parents struggle with providing good tooth care because toddlers will fight tooth brushing. However, if parents begin brushing gums and baby teeth gently as soon as they appear, toddlers and preschoolers have a higher chance of being used to the routine by the time they are old enough to care about fighting back. Tooth decay can begin as soon as teeth appear, which is a good idea anyway, because with milk bottles and nighttime feedings, sugars from the milk and solids can rest in a baby's mouth for a long time, starting the process of decay. 

2. Set a positive example.

Let your child see you making tooth care a priority. Try not to leave the house in the morning without brushing your own teeth, and state it out loud: "We can't leave yet! I still need to brush my teeth!" Take turns brushing each other's teeth -- your child might be more willing to let you help with their teeth if you are more willing to let them help with yours. 

You can help make this time more enjoyable by singing songs, giving praise about brushing, and having "show off" sessions where each person with clean teeth smiles big for everyone to see the clean teeth.

3. Make flossing easy. 

Children often are not coordinated enough to handle traditional flossing methods. Color floss picks can help with this problem. Show your child how to use them and help them with flossing during the first several years of life. Flossing is often overlooked in regular dental hygiene, even among adults, and many children may not like it. Explain why floss is important and provide incentives like sticker charts or prizes for a whole week of flossing. You could even crown your child the "Boss of Floss" if they have a whole month of good daily flossing.

4. Visit the dentist regularly.

Many children grow up fearing the dentist, and so they end up avoiding dental appointments as they move into young adulthood. Make dental appointments a positive experience for your child by speaking encouragingly about the dentist and explaining why it is important to go. You can also take your child to see and meet the dentist beforehand. 

For more ideas and tips for helping your child develop good dental habits, contact a family dental clinic in your area, such as Dr. Jerry F. Maymi & Associates.