Every parent knows that teaching babies and toddlers requires patience and repetition, and healthy dental habits are no exception. The reward is that your child grows up understanding how to care for their oral health, and be open to having necessary dental treatment.
Babies and toddlers learn by imitation, so make sure you are modelling healthy dental habits. Your child should occasionally see you cleaning and flossing your teeth. The dentist should be a familiar and friendly place for check-ups. DB Dental’s practices are all child-friendly, with specially trained dentists and pediatric specialists who welcome young patients, and treat a wide range of children.
Make brushing teeth fun
Children have much smaller mouths and more sensitive palates, so adult oral care products are not all suitable. Ask your dentist’s advice on the best type of toothbrush and toothpaste for children, and allow your child to choose the colour of the brush if possible. Make sure you replace it every three months, or every season if that’s easier to remember.
Try to make tooth-cleaning fun, one-on-one time. Let your toddler watch you clean your teeth, then give them their toothbrush with a tiny dab of toothpaste to try before you do it for them. You will need to assist with cleaning your child’s teeth until they’re at least school age. Encourage them to do it themselves and show them how to clean the different areas of the teeth. Never share toothbrushes, even for fun, because you can pass on bacteria.
Brushing your teeth should take two minutes, twice a day, so make it easier for children to learn how long to brush. Look for songs online which are designed to encourage children to brush their teeth, or find something your child loves to play each time they brush.
Don’t forget the floss
Even small children need to have their teeth flossed to remove any bits of food that brushes don’t reach, and to keep their gums healthy. Your dentist can show you how to floss your children’s teeth, as you will need to help them floss until they develop the skills at around nine or ten years old.
For a small child, brushing and flossing twice a day can seem like a big commitment. However, having a reward system such as charts and stickers can help to build healthy habits. Once the task is complete, let them put a sticker on the chart. Once they’ve reached a certain achievable number, such as a week’s worth, you could reward them with something that they enjoy. Either a walk to their favourite playground, story time, or a board game with the family for example. Positive attention is important to children and helps reinforce good habits.
Water, not fruit juice, for drinks
The rate of dental decay in children is on the rise, influenced by regular sweets and fruit juices, as well as other sugary drinks. The problem is not only the amount of sugar, but the frequency of sugar consumption. Bacteria in the mouth feed on sugars and then have an all-day opportunity to create decay.
The whole family’s diet should be healthy and nutritious, with sugary foods and drinks a special occasion treat rather than an everyday lunchbox filler. Water should always be served when children are thirsty. Replace treats with healthier substitutions one item at a time to transition your family to healthier habits.
You can book your child’s dental checkup online now at DB Dental. DB Dental’s dentists will help your children with good oral health for life.