With schools closed due to COVID-19, many parents are finding that they now have to step in to the role of teacher. While you’re educating your child math and science, it’s important that you take the time to teach them about healthy oral hygiene habits as well. Kids are going to find more opportunities to grab snacks now that they are home all day, and that can lead to increased tooth decay. Because you can’t visit a children’s dentist for a cleaning appointment, it’s more important than ever to teach your child about good home dental care. However, it can be difficult to get children to care about their oral health, so try using these strategies to make it more interesting to them.
1. Demonstrate With Things They Like
Brushing and flossing are going to be new experiences for your child, so it’s helpful to show these activities in a context that they are familiar with. Try demonstrating the proper techniques on a toy your child has, or look up videos of their favorite characters practicing dental hygiene.
2. Use Products Branded For Children
You want your child to look forward to taking care of their teeth. Using brushes that are decorated with their favorite colors or cartoon characters makes the experience feel more personalized and important to them. These products are also smaller than the adult versions, so kids will have an easier time holding them and fitting them in their mouths.
3. Spend Time With Them
Children love to pretend they are all grown up. You can use this desire to your advantage. Taking the time to brush and floss with your child lets them feel like they are just like you while giving you the chance to observe their brushing habits. If you see something wrong, you’ll be right next to them to correct it.
4. Make It A Game
Kids love to play games, and you can incorporate them into their daily dental care routines. You can have your child try and copy your brushstrokes to teach them good technique, or set a timer and see who can brush for the entire time. If you let your child “win” these games, they’ll look forward to playing them every day.
5. Reward Them
When you child follows through on brushing and flossing, show them your appreciation by rewarding them. Simple things like stickers or some extra time on the iPad will reinforce your child’s desire to keep their teeth clean. Likewise, if your child fails or makes a mistake, don’t punish them harshly. Instead, remind them that they can always try again tomorrow.
6. Repeat The Process
Consistency is vital to building good habits. If you stop brushing and flossing with your child, they are going to forget about it. Keep working with them until they decide to brush their teeth without any prompting from you.
Teaching your child good dental care habits doesn’t need to be difficult. These strategies will allow you to appeal to your child’s natural interests while showing them that oral hygiene practices can be both easy and fun.
About the Author
Dr. Andreea Rallis completed dental school at the University of Toronto in 2016. She is a member of the Ontario Dental Association and the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. As the mother of two, she understands how difficult it can be to get children to follow good oral care habits. She is proud to provide parents with detailed dental exams for their children and give them practical advice to care for their children’s teeth. If you are concerned about a dental issue your child is facing, you can contact her at her practice’s website or at 416-267-6789.