If you are a parent, you must know the challenge of establishing good dental hygiene on your children. Even dentists, as professional and experienced as they are, admit that instilling discipline in children is not that easy. However demanding this may be, it is important if you want your child to have those healthy pearly whites.
Dentists who are parents themselves have spoken up on this issue. Sharing their expert opinions, here are some helpful insights and tips on how to teach good dental habits to your children:
1. Make it a family activity.
Commanding a young child to go and brush their teeth or floss might sound intimidating. Because this is directed as an order, it will not sound appealing to a kid. According to ADA dentist Dr. Gene Romo, “The most important thing is to make sure your family is brushing for 2 minutes, twice a day.” This is the number one rule to teach your children.
Kids look up to their elders and it is important for you to set a good example for them. Dr. Romo shares a fun little way to encourage healthy brushing habits to kids. In their household, they play a game of monkey-see, monkey-do. His kids copy his movements and brushing techniques, starting from the front teeth to the back ones.
Making up a fun activity like this will not just help parents monitor their kids’ brushing methods, it also paves way to spending quality bonding time with them.
2. Inspect kids’ teeth closely.
Because children have smaller teeth, it may be difficult to see the state of their molars, especially the ones in the back. Dentist Dr. Richard Price shares an effective trick to clearly see the back teeth.
When your kid is brushing inside the bathroom, have them look up to you while you are standing behind them. This angle should give you a pretty good view of the back molars and if they are brushing all of their teeth properly.
3. Parenting never stops.
As your kids get older, they will most definitely want more and more private time. Your usual bonding moments will decrease and they will want to do things more independently. While these are challenging times, your role as an inquisitive parent should not be affected.
This is especially true during high school and college. When they receive more workload and outside stressors, their dental hygiene can be greatly compromised. Add to that increased consumption of junk food, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, the teeth will require more attention. Dr. Maria Lopez Howell says it is common for college students to have late nights because of studying or socializing and end up neglecting their health. They forget their nightly dental routine and just doze off without even brushing.
You may not see them as often as you used to when they are younger but you can still make efforts to check up on their status from time to time. Even if your kids are now more matured and independent, they still need your gentle reminders.
4. Be a little firm when necessary.
Some children may need a firmer approach when it comes to hygiene. If you have a kid that requires more attention and care, provide them what they need willingly. You may have to do a little more work but it is necessary to teach discipline.
Dr. Romo checks up on the toothbrushes of his children and sees if they have been wet and used. During times when he notices they are dry, he remarks to his children that they need to brush their teeth again. This time, with him watching or brushing with his children.
Another sound piece of advice from Dr. Lopez Howell is to save an evidence or proof of their neglect and present it to them. For example, flossing is an essential practice that must not be neglected. A piece of used floss can be a great tool to let them know how bad their hygiene has become. This might be an aggressive move but it is usually an effective way to push for change in their dental habits.
5. Consistency is key.
As with any new learning, consistency is the key to developing a routine. If you show your children the importance of regular brushing and flossing consistently, they will eventually take it to heart and follow your guidance.
This may pose as a challenge as it requires a lot of time and effort on your part. However, you will be rewarded with a sense of fulfillment when you see your kids’ healthy smiles.