10 Ways to Motivate Your Child to Take Care of Their Teeth
By Angela Canfield, DDS
Dental hygiene is important to everyone’s overall health, especially when it comes to children. In the early developmental stages, it is critical to take charge of oral health and February is the perfect time, as it is Children’s Dental Hygiene month. Taking care of those little chompers helps prevent plaque, which is a clear film of bacteria that sticks to teeth. Consider these ways to teach your kids to take care of their teeth:
1. Start the hygiene regiment early by cleaning your baby’s gums. After each feeding, wipe your baby’s gums with water and a gauze pad or washcloth. Since the baby cannot spit, don’t try to use toothpaste. Once they become a toddler, you can start brushing them. Make it a routine and have them brush their teeth at the same time every day so it becomes a habit for them.
2. Make sure you are a role model and show children habits you want them to learn. If you brush and floss daily, in front of your children, then they become more receptive to follow you. You can even make it a family affair.
3. On the flip side of that, tooth decay is contagious. If you have a cavity or mouth infection, you can easily pass it on to your children by sharing cups or utensils. Keep your own mouth healthy.
4. Make sure your child will enjoy the flavor of toothpaste and design of toothbrush. There are so many flavors and styles to choose from. There are a full range of characters from cartoons and children’s stories on new toothbrushes, and some even light up. This can be very motivating to some children.
5. Use hand-held flossers instead of regular floss. This might make flossing easier for children and they come in different colors.
6. Encourage your children to brush their teeth with a reward. You could even create a reward chart for monthly, weekly or daily goals. Try to shy away from candy rewards though, for obvious reasons.
7. Read books with your children or watch a fun children video about dental hygiene. This will be a great educational tool to motivate your child to brush their teeth.
8. Try switching kids to an electronic toothbrush. An electronic toothbrush gets teeth cleaner than a manual toothbrush. At the same time, these toothbrushes sometimes sing songs or flash different colors which is just plain fun.
9. When your child becomes older, let them start using mouthwash. A mouthwash with fluoride will help reduce cavities and periodontal disease.
10. One of the questions most asked by parents is, “When should I take my child to the dentist for the first time?” According to recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association and the Academy of General Dentistry, a child should visit the dentist when they turn 1-year-old. The dentist can then observe the development of your toddler’s mouth and to notice issues before they develop into major problems.
To kids, brushing teeth can seem like a chore, but with the right encouragement, those little tikes could be loving their pearly whites in no time. For more suggestions, please contact me at 912.826.4037
ABOUT DR. ANGELA CANFIELD
Dr. Canfield is licensed by the Georgia Board of Dentistry and the National Board of Dentist. She owns and practices at two dental offices: Premier Dental Designs located in Rincon, GA at 5871 HWY 21 South, and Sandfly Family Dental located in the Norwood Market in Savannah, GA. Both dental offices provide Family/Preventative Dentistry, Cosmetic Dentistry, Restorative Dentistry, Orthodontic Dentistry, Digital X-Rays, E4D One Day Crowns, Electronic Claims, Intra Oral Camera and Paperless Charting. The offices are open Monday through Friday and offer evening appointments. For more information, call 912.826.4037 or visit http://www.premierdentaldesigns.com/ or http://www.sandflyfamilydental.com/ .
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Angela C. Canfield DDS
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