Children have an entire world to explore and a lively imagination that makes everything fun. They love to make up games and play with their friends, but the entertainment comes to a halt when they have to brush their teeth. Taking care of their gums and teeth shouldn’t be a daily challenge. Use these smart ways to encourage dental health habits in your kids to make every part of their day something they can look forward to.
1. Participate With Them
Kids don’t want to feel watched or judged. Standing next to them and staring while they go through their dental routine will do just that. Instead, participate with them so brushing and flossing becomes a family activity. They’ll love the extra time with you and feel less like they could get in trouble for doing something wrong.
2. Play Their Favorite Music
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that everyone brush their teeth for two minutes every morning and night. It’s not very long, but two minutes can feel like an eternity for kids. Play their favorite music by finding songs roughly two minutes long. They’ll dance along and spend more time brushing than if they were left alone in a quiet bathroom.
3. Make Creative Menus
One of the smart ways to encourage dental health habits in your kids is to think outside of the bathroom. Feeding your family foods that are low in added sugars or don’t have any at all will help them avoid cavities. Try making menus that switch up your daily meals with sugar-free recipes like chicken alfredo zoodles or taco stuffed sweet potatoes. You’ll protect everyone’s health and keep cavities from forming between cleanings.
4. Schedule a Checkup
Going to the doctor is a great way to take care of your teeth. They’ll catch and treat diseases that result in poor dental health, like:
Although your kids won’t be at risk for every disease that could harm their teeth, everyone benefits from staying healthy. Your doctor may recommend an extra trip to the dentist if they suspect that ongoing health challenges are affecting your child’s teeth or gum line, possibly saving them from detrimental consequences.
5. Find the Right Dentist
No one wants to disappoint their friends. Kids will take their dental health more seriously when they consider their dentist a friend instead of a scary person who cleans their teeth.
Parents should find the right dentist for their family and consider switching if your current dentist isn’t friendly, inviting and great with kids. When they give your children tips or recommend changes in their routine, they’ll take the professional advice more seriously because they feel comfortable.
6. Upgrade Their Supplies
Sometimes children don’t want to use mouthwash or brush their teeth because they don’t enjoy the taste of anything. Switch things up by trying new flavors or getting a toothbrush with their favorite characters. They won’t dread their dental routine if they enjoy what they use.
Kids might also struggle with dental routines because they can’t easily reach the sink. If you have to hold them up to the water, they might feel uncomfortable. Parents can make a faucet extender or find one online to fix the problem. They come in fun shapes and colors so any time spent at your bathroom sink is easy and fun for young kids.
7. Surprise Them With Rewards
Children are also motivated by challenges and rewards. Ask them to brush their teeth on their own for a week or remember to use their mouthwash. If they don’t forget a step or skip anything because they’re tired, they’ll win a prize.
Rewarding kids for something as simple as not complaining when it’s time to floss is a great way to reinforce positive habits. They’ll get something new to play with or an extra playdate with their friend and connect their joy with taking care of their teeth. Use a sticker chart or calendar to keep track of which days they meet or exceed your expectations so they have a visual reminder of their progress.
8. Start Habits Early
People can learn new things at any age, but starting good habits early in life turns them into muscle memory. Brush your baby’s teeth when they start coming in and point out dental care scenes in your child’s favorite movies or TV shows.
When they see and do the same things every day, they won’t be able to think about going to school or heading to bed without using their toothbrush. Automatic habits also feel less like chores. The sooner your kids start learning about how to take care of their teeth, they’ll keep up the habits more easily throughout their life.
Encourage Better Dental Health Habits
Kids don’t always look forward to dental routines because it takes time away from when they could play with their toys or watch TV. Parents can use these smart ways to encourage dental health habits in your kids so they enjoy lives free of cavities, crowns and extractions. Try new tips to see which work best for your family and instill the importance of dental hygiene.