According to the CDC, 1 in 5 children (or 20%) aged 5 – 11 years has at least one untreated decayed tooth. There’s no doubt you want your kids to be in the other 80%, with healthy teeth and dental habits.
Dental care is important at every age. Even very young children can be taught to take excellent care of their teeth.
You’re ready to set your kids on the path to healthy teeth, but you aren’t sure what to do. Never fear! We’ve got the best tips for teaching good dental habits right here.
Dental Care for Kids
Even though your children may still have all their baby teeth, you’ll want them to start practicing good oral hygiene as soon as possible. Teaching them to brush and floss at least twice a day will help prevent cavities and gingivitis, along with other tooth and gum-related issues.
Here are 5 dental care tips you can use to keep your kid’s smile big and bright:
1. Start Early
As soon as your child’s teeth begin coming in, start scrubbing them with a clean, soft washcloth. Explain what you’re doing once they’re old enough to understand.
When you think your kids are ready, let them be in charge of their own brushing. Stay nearby as they’re getting used to this task to check the amount of toothpaste they’re using and how thorough they’re being. Once they’re comfortable with brushing, you can introduce flossing.
2. Make it Fun
Brushing and flossing twice a day can become tedious for children. Find ways to make it fun so they’ll be more eager to get it done.
Have your kids help pick out some fun dental supplies. A toothbrush featuring their favorite character and toothpaste in a kid-friendly flavor can help make brushing more appealing.
Consider a chart your kids can place stickers on each time they remember to brush and floss. Set a sticker goal and give your kids a reward when they reach it. Be sure not to make the reward candy or chocolate!
3. Model Healthy Practices
Your children want to be grown-up, and they watch your every move and copy what you say and do.
Let your kids see you brushing and flossing your own teeth. After breakfast, make it time for everyone—including you!—to brush and floss.
While brushing your teeth alongside your child, explain how you’re reaching all your teeth and talk about exactly how long to brush. This can help improve your child’s technique.
4. Healthy Eating
Children need to be taught about the connection between the health of their teeth and the things they eat and drink. Teach them which foods will help their teeth grow strong, such as milk, carrots, or pineapple.
Let them know that sugary foods like candy and soda are not good for their teeth and should be avoided.
5. Don’t Forget the Dentist
When your child’s first tooth comes in, make an appointment with a dentist. Try to find someone who’s skilled at working with a child’s growing mouth and can also make your child feel comfortable. If your child has great experiences at the dentist from the start, they will not mind going for their next check-up.
Healthy Habits for Life
Using these dental care tips should keep your child right where you want them to be—in the 80% of kids with healthy teeth. If your kids get into good habits early, those habits will continue as they grow older.
Want more health tips? Be sure to check our site for other ways to take care of you and yours.