Good oral hygiene starts as soon as you have teeth. But it can be tough to convince your 3-year-old that it’s time to turn off the cartoons and brush. It’s a battle in my house and I am a dentist!
But oral hygiene is crucial for our kids. One in three Aussie kids are not brushing their teeth twice a day – which leaves them at risk of poor oral hygiene and dental related issues as they get older.
Here are a few simple tips to help get your kids brushing and create positive habits that hopefully last a lifetime.
Kids want a little bit of control, and if you can let them have control over some aspects in life, it’s proven they’re more willing to engage in those activities.
Let your kids pick out their own toothbrush. Make it a fun activity that you do together. There are plenty of colours and fun designs these days.
You can also let them choose the kind of toothpaste they want to use. It stops them from having to use a toothpaste they don’t like the texture or taste of and places them in control of the dental hygiene process.
At Taree Dental Care we have flavoured toothpaste especially designed for kids tastebuds – apple, banana and strawberry. If your kids aren’t keen on peppermint, why not give these fruit flavours a whirl?
Make this part of the day you spend together. Brush your teeth at the same time as your kids to show them that everyone brushes their teeth – it’s not a punishment. It’s a necessity.
Don’t stare boringly into the mirror, though. Add some fun.
Here are a couple suggestions :
Playing a game together in the bathroom shows them that not only does everybody brush their teeth, but it doesn’t have to be a chore.
Plus, if you can find a way to distract them from the monotony of hygiene, then they’ll forget about the time lost and will be more likely to do it on their own.
Remember, kids should be supervised while brushing their teeth until they’re around eight years old.
Rewards are excellent motivators for reinforcing good behavior. You’re also more likely to get the job done without tears if there’s something fun at the end.
Create a rewards chart. Keep track of the number of days they brush their teeth without complaining or having a meltdown. Let them see you add a sticker to their chart when they’ve done well! OR let them choose and add the sticker to their own chart for an extra reward.
As they get older, perhaps let them choose their own reward to work towards.
Little tots often need instant rewards. Offer another bedtime story as a reward for their good behavior.
Keep brushing teeth on a morning and evening schedule so kids know when to expect it. Such as straight after brekky, or right before bed.
By having them brush every day at the same time, they’ll know that there’s a dedicated time to brush and they shouldn’t expect to be doing anything else at the time.
It Takes a Team
It really does take a team to keep teeth healthy. Visit us at Taree Dental Care at least once a year and we can talk to you about how often your child should visit the dentist.
And remember, the Australian Government covers the dental costs of some children through Medicare. You can check whether your child is eligible on the Child Dental Benefits Schedule website or give us a call so we can help you.
Remember, start those good habits early!
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