5 ways to instil good brushing habits in your children


Dental health is a gateway to overall health, good or bad.

By setting your child up with the foundation for good dental health care, you prevent larger problems down the line. Many parents are unaware that their child’s oral health can have a direct affect on their health and well-being, conditions such as insomnia and eating habits can be affected by the pain from cavities.

A regular teeth cleaning routine is essential for good dental health. A recent report on the state of children’s oral health estimated that 90 per cent of dental caries are preventable – it is thus important to keep teeth and gums as healthy as possible.

Tooth decay may not cause any symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage, therefore it is important for children to visit a dentist regularly.

The importance of proper cleaning

Of course, poor oral health does not happen overnight. Rather an ongoing lack of proper care leads to unhealthy teeth and gums. According to Align Dentistry and Medical Centre in Australia, a combination of an unhealthy diet and inadequate brushing of teeth within the initial two years of a child’s life leads to tooth decay. Even though these initial teeth are lost when a child’s adult teeth begin to come in, the poor care for primary teeth raises the risk of poor permanent tooth health.

Instilling good brushing habits

Helping your children brush their teeth once they can do it independently may seem like overkill. Nonetheless, parents should help their children brush their teeth until age 6 and then monitor tooth brushing until children are 12 years old.

Monitoring your children’s tooth brushing entails checking in on the condition of their toothbrushes. Toothbrushes that have worn bristles are less effective at cleaning teeth than fresh toothbrushes. Children 6 years old and younger should first brush their teeth on their own, and then a parent should brush the child’s teeth again.

If your children can tie their own shoes, their fine motor skills are developed enough for them to brush their teeth independently. However, to ensure that your children brush their teeth thoroughly on their own, there are five strategies:

1. Begin early

The earlier you stress the importance of healthy brushing and flossing habits, the better. That way, the process becomes routine and there is less of a daily struggle to get your children to practice healthy oral care.

2. Stay positive

According to A+ Dentistry in San Diego, giving positive feedback and reinforcement when it is time to brush teeth helps children. A+ Dentistry suggested that an effective method for encouragement is to create a sticker chart that rewards your children for brushing and flossing twice per day. Depending on how you want to structure the sticker system, you can provide a reward – whether a prize or a movie night, for example – at the end of a week or a month.
“It takes at least two minutes of brushing to get rid of bacteria and buildup.”

3. Set the example

NHS UK suggests that you can help your child by letting them see you brush your own teeth. If your kids see you brushing and flossing thoroughly and regularly, it will set the precedent and result in your children brushing more frequently and better. These examples can be visual or oral. For example, when you are done with a midday meal or starting off your day, saying that it is time to brush your teeth aloud will trigger an association in your kids’ brains.

4. Make it fun

Your kids should use dental hygiene supplies that are intended for children, which are smaller and also have other features that are important for youths. However, the fun part about this is that children’s toothbrushes, for example, are typically more colourful and are decorated with appealing themes like cartoon characters. Get your young ones involved in the fun and have them pick out their own toothbrushes and toothpaste with their favourite characters. This will translate to a bit more enthusiasm about brushing.

5. Get creative

Make brushing time creative just as you would if you were playing a game with your child. A+ Dentistry suggested singing a song while they brush. Because it takes at least two minutes of brushing to get rid of bacteria and build up, turning on your child’s favourite song or show tune is another alternative. Some kids are more resistant to brushing than others. Therefore, make brushing relatable for children. One tactic to do this is to read a book that centers around brushing and flossing or create your own story to tell your kids.

How a healthy diet can also help your child’s teeth

Ensuring your child is eating a healthy diet and limiting the amount of sugar consumption and acidic foods to mealtimes. Be careful with fruit juice as it is high in sugars, so it is important that parents give young children water or milk. NHS UK recommends limiting fruit juice to 150mls (small glass) per day from smoothies and juices or both.

Other alternatives include sugar-free and no added sugar drinks and squashes.

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