It is so important to instill good dental habits in your kids. Teaching children how to brush and floss properly not only protects their oral health but it is also an indicator for overall health. Additionally, learning good oral care habits teaches them responsibility. One of the most important parts of good kids dental care is good follow up from parents!
First Model Good Dental Care
When your children first sprout some teeth to take care of, it is the parents that have to take full responsibility for the care since the babies are too young. Somewhere along the way, your little ones will want to start helping brush their teeth. This is great and should be encouraged. You want the child to build his ability and dexterity as he practices but you still want to watch and follow up with a good brush of your own because it is so important.
Work on Dental Care With Your Child As A Team
When kids first decide they want to help brush their teeth, they are usually very inefficient and ineffective. As a parent, practice patience and encourage their effort. Let them try and tell them what they did well. It is also good to give constructive feedback- “I think you did a great job brushing your teeth. We just need to do it a little longer and make sure you get the ones in the back.” You may also want to read these tips for how to brush toddler teeth.
Let Your Child Take Over Their Dental Care But Follow Up
Eventually, after watching your child brush their teeth and inspecting the results, you will feel comfortable letting them brush and floss themselves. Trusting your child is important for their self esteem and for your relationship. However, don’t just assume they can do such an important task all by themselves without a little follow up. They may need help following directions. Check up on your child every once in a while. Sometimes, just pop into the bathroom and check on the progress. Sometimes, inspect their teeth afterwards to make sure they are getting their teeth really clean. Sometimes, just check verbally. Varying your follow up techniques will keep them guessing and keep it from becoming a nagging thing.
Don’t forget to tell you kids how proud you are of the job they are doing on their dental care! Positive reinforcement is not only a great motivator but also a great esteem builder. If you are not proud, then discuss improvements that need to be made and tell them you are sure they can do better if they try. Learning good oral care as children, will set them up for a lifetime of good oral health.
My husband always tells my kids, “Only brush the ones you want to keep!”