We are not going to trick anybody. We cannot convince somebody of something that just is not true. So we are not going to attempt to do anything of the sort. The truth is, nothing about maintaining strong dental hygiene would be what a normal person calls fun or enjoyable (we would, but we will admit we are not normal, we are dentists!).
But as all us adults have unfortunately come to understand through the years, just because something is not fun does not mean we can ignore it. Our children, on the other hand, have yet to learn that lesson. Life to them is fun and beautiful and grand. Ah, if only we could all see the world as kids do once again!
So let us do our part in keeping the wonder of existence alive and real for our youngsters by bringing a little fun and excitement to even the most mundane of daily tasks, especially to the ones as critically important as dental hygiene.
Dental Arts on the Square in Newtown Square, PA firmly believes that making kids dental care fun is crucial to your child’s dental health and development, both now and well into the future as you help establish the positive habits and practices that will see them maintain a beautiful smile — even if they become jaded, boring adults like us one day!
Do It Together!
You know how your kid seems attached to your hip all the time? How they sneak into your room to cuddle in your bed — no matter how early or whether there is space or not! Maybe in those particular moments it does not always seem too cute, but use that connection to your advantage and reinforce positive habits while you are at it!
Kids love to mimic the actions of those around them, especially their parents, so brushing and flossing together every morning and each night is a great way to both spend valuable time with your baby AND teach them the correct way to facilitate their dental needs!
Ensure your child is brushing their teeth properly (including brushing that tongue) for at least two minutes, and encourage them with positive reinforcement so they feel skilled and accomplished. Be sure to gently floss your child’s teeth for them, or when they are old enough, instruct them how to safely floss. Make sure these basics are followed in their nightly routine until they know it by heart!
- Brush their teeth and tongue with fluoride toothpaste
- Use a pea-sized drop of fluoride toothpaste
- Always spit out the toothpaste and never swallow it
- Make sure to brush at least twice a day for two minutes each
- Floss daily to clean plaque buildup from between the teeth
Feel free to add a little bit of your own creativity as well! Try making up songs or rhymes about keeping those teeth clean and healthy. You know your child best, so tailor the experience to their interests and watch as they become the one nagging you to brush those teeth!
Let Them Be Unique!
No two children are the same. And nobody out there knows your kid better than you! So play into that and allow your child’s unique qualities shine through twice a day, every day. The easiest way to help your kid stand out when brushing their teeth is with their very own, special toothbrush.
Try surprising them with a toothbrush featuring their favorite cartoon or movie character or even take them on a special trip to the store so that they can select a toothbrush on their own! Children’s toothbrushes are inexpensive, and since you should trade out your toothbrush routinely, it can be a recurring treat as their tastes and interests adapt over time.
- Allow your child to have their own, special toothbrush
- Make sure your kid’s toothbrush is soft bristled and the right size
- Create your very own fun and silly brushing songs or rhymes
Make It A Learning Experience!
By their very nature, children are always hungry to learn, whether they realize it or not. The key, however, it to disguise learning in a way that does not make it seem like work. Games are an excellent way to pass along useful information to kids without them picking up on the fact you are parenting them!
It is no different in the bathroom each morning and night. Brushing their teeth is a fantastic opportunity to teach your child about time. Pluck a little hourglass timer from the game closest and let your kid flip it over and begin brushing until the two minutes are up.
Even sneak a little learning outside the bathroom by having your little one practice reading, and if it just so happens those books talk about good oral health, well, even better (wink, wink)!
- Use a sand timer your kid can flip to practice brushing for two minutes
- Build a hangable calendar in the bathroom and give gold stars for brushing
- Find books or videos that encourage dental hygiene to teach them outside the bathroom
Build a little calendar to hang in the bathroom at their height and let them stick a gold star on each day of the week (twice a day!) when they have finished brushing. Like a true super parent, you are teaching them the days of the week, healthy routines and proper kids dental care. Way to go!
Use Special Toothpaste!
A discouraging factor for many children when brushing their teeth is the taste of the toothpaste. The common minty flavors are too bold for their little taste buds and more traditional kinds of toothpaste are just too bland or gross. Do not let your kid’s dental care fall to the wayside because of the toothpaste!
But fear not because there are plenty of options when it comes to selecting a flavorful, fun toothpaste for your kid while retaining the healthy benefits. Often times kids opt for toothpaste that is made for them with characters on the tube and more palatable flavors to eliminate the taste from discouraging brushing. However, always keep in mind that toothpaste is never OK to swallow and should always be spit out. Bubblegum flavored or not!
- Find a flavor or character-themed toothpaste of your kids choice
- Never swallow the toothpaste and clearly communicate it is dangerous
- Always make sure to pick fluoride toothpaste after they are old enough not to swallow
- Do not forget to floss with every brushing
Create Enjoyable Family Dentist Visits!
Any doctor’s office environment can be an intimidating and scary experience for a child, certainly when they are still very young. So as a parent, you want to help your kid feel safe and understand where they are and why they are there to establish there is nothing to fear.
Selecting a strong dentist office for your family is a great place to start, because a great dentist is one who is invested in kids dental care as much as you are! Regular check-ups should be a priority and it is recommended you and your youngster visit the dentist every six months, so make it an exciting event!
Turn the day into positive family time by taking them to the park afterward or to a movie. Anything that would engage your child’s interests in a healthy manner. The key is to make the connection between fun and a dentist visit without your kid inferring any direct connection necessarily.
- Be sure to choose a dentist office supportive of kids dental care
- Make regular check-ups every six months a priority and positive event
- Tie together a trip to the dentist with a fun activity, without expressing it
- Never, ever bribe your child to go to the dentist
- Mix up what fun thing you do afterward to prevent a direct pattern and keep the excitement
It is important to remember that bribing your kid into going to the dentist is not a positive example or habit to instill. So avoid making the experience an A for B transaction. Do not tell your kid “if you go to the dentist, we can go to the park.” Instead, allow your little one to draw the connection subconsciously. You know, like they already do with Halloween and candy — which we absolutely cannot, and do not condone!
By helping your little ones create a fun and positive atmosphere around proper kids dental care, perhaps you will find a little love and joy in maintaining your dental hygiene as well. That is our sincerest hope! One day down the road, you will miss that time together with your child. And if you follow these tips, we are betting they will too.
At Dental Arts on the Square in Newtown Square, PA, we understand what you should look for in your kid’s dental care and would love the opportunity to be your family dentist and help create an amazing, lifelong smile for your child. Schedule an appointment today!