Few kids know how to properly take care of their teeth, and fewer actually enjoy it. Here are some strategies for teaching kids how to take proper care of their teeth and making it fun. You can find a pediatric dentist near you at aapd.org
How to Take Proper Care of Your Teeth: 4 Tips For Kids
Build a routine
A routine for caring for your children’s teeth can start when they’re babies, by wiping down their gums with a clean cloth after feedings. As they grow into toddlers and teeth appear, exchange the cloth for small toothbrushes to use twice daily.
As toddlers grow into preschoolers and beyond, you’ve already established that brushing their teeth is part of your family’s everyday routine. Make sure that your children brush their teeth twice a day, preferably in the morning and evening, and that they practice flossing in between teeth. As your kids grow older, schedule visits to the dentist twice a year for regular cleanings and checkups.
Kids need to know that taking care of their teeth is important, and that there are long-term consequences if they don’t. My boys – ages eight and five – love to hear about how when they eat, bacteria come out to play on their teeth, building plaque that turns to acid. It’s the acid that eats away at their teeth, rotting them and making them fall out. My kids imagine that they’re superheroes, fighting plaque with all their might! This explanation might work for your kids too, but if it doesn’t, find one that helps explain why taking care of their teeth is important. Teaching kids how to take proper care of their teeth is much easier when they understand why and are motivated to help you.
Let Your Child Choose
It’s fun to have a variety of products for kids to choose from when it comes to taking care of their teeth. Have two or three toothbrushes available, and allow your child to choose which toothbrush they want to use when it’s time to brush their teeth.
Other kid-friendly products to consider include plastic cups for rinsing, different colors of floss, and a variety of toothpaste flavors. Let your child put the toothpaste on the brush (emphasizing that the toothpaste should be the size of a pea), and then have your child choose who starts brushing his/her teeth first if you’re taking turns.
I would love it if my children could brush their teeth on their own…but they can’t. They’re not able to reach those tight spaces where plaque has their parties, and kids don’t take the time necessary to properly brush their teeth.
One way that works well for my kids is if I brush their teeth for fifteen seconds, and then they have a turn. After taking turns brushing a couple of times, we take turns flossing their teeth.
Teaching kids how to take proper care of their teeth is something you will be thankful for next time you visit your dentist and save yourself a huge bill on fixing cavities. It is worth the time and hopefully these tips will help make teaching kids how to take proper care of their teeth more fun. Do you have any experiences with this you would like to share?