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Tips to Encourage Dental Health in Kids

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 17 Jun 2010 | comments*Discuss
Kids Children Dental Teeth Gums Mouth

Dental health is important for everyone but especially important for kids. Childhood is a key time where learning good dental habits can last a lifetime, leading to healthy teeth and gums as an adult.

How to Start

It's recommended that dental care start very early on for babies. Wiping down your baby's gums after feeding not only helps prevent plaque, but also gets your baby familiar with having activity in their mouth. Better still, your child gets used to the feeling of a clean mouth, which helps later on to encourage brushing.

For those first several years of brushing, your child should participate but you should also be helping him or her to brush properly. Manual dexterity isn't always that strong during the early years, so it is your role to ensure oral hygiene is properly maintained.

Make Brushing Fun

Most of us do not like doing something when it isn't fun and certainly this is very true for children! Your enthusiasm will be contagious. Make brushing fun by telling stories and jokes about teeth – perhaps the tooth fairy – and keep it a happy, pleasant time.

Lead by Example

If your child regularly sees you brushing your teeth, he or she is more likely to follow. Keep your own moods pleasant and if you are hurried, be sure your child sees and knows that you have made time to brush because it is important.

Make Sure Your Child Spits

Toothpaste can sometimes taste a little too nice. You need to always supervise brushing for your children and ensure they spit out toothpaste. Kids naturally want to swallow something that tastes good but you must explain to them the reasons why they need to spit out their toothpaste.

Turn Brushing Into a Family Affair

Brushing your teeth together with your kids makes brushing a family affair. You can share your enthusiasm and make it more fun. At the same time, you can also show kids that it's important for everyone to brush their teeth.

Give Positive Reinforcement

Compliment and praise your kids when they brush their teeth. Make sure you tell them they are doing a good job while also including ways to make it even more thorough. Your positive words will help your kids feel good about brushing their teeth.

Don't Forget Flossing

Flossing is frequently a neglected practice when it comes to oral hygiene. Kids who don't learn to floss are more likely to become adults who don't floss too. You can purchase easy-to-use plastic picks that have floss threaded on ready for kids. It makes it easier for kids because their manual dexterity isn't the same as adults.

Switch Roles

While it may sound a bit strange, switching roles once in a while to have your child brush your own teeth can make brushing fun. Of course you will probably still need to do a proper brush yourself afterward. But the point here is to do something surprising and fun to show that you enjoy tooth brushing as well.

Help Kids Develop Good Oral Hygiene Habits

Start early on and keep up with the tips above to help kids learn good oral hygiene. Many of the problems that occur in adults can be traced back to their younger years when oral hygiene wasn't properly taught and emphasised. You can also use this time to keep your own habits in check, giving everyone in the family a healthier, better smile.

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