Making oral hygiene fun for kids
SUMMARY: Brushing doesn't have to be a bore. Discover how to make oral care engaging for youngsters.
Posted: January 15, 2014
Younger kids may run into some speed bumps now and then while brushing, flossing and/or trying to sit still during a dentist visit. Most of the time, they brush for what, to them, seems like an eternity, but in fact clocks in at less than 20 seconds. However, maintaining good oral health is crucial, as learning hygiene habits at a young age has been shown to promote healthy teeth later in life, free of cavities, bad breath and gingivitis.
Turn brushing into a game
While many kids may immediately grow bored of brushing, there are several ways to make the activity fun, or at least more pleasant. One way to do this is by turning it into jam time. Pull up their favorite song on your smart phone and play it for two minutes as they brush. Switch out the song every week, or whenever they're in the mood for a new track. If you don't want to bring your phone or stereo into the bathroom, have them hum a tune while they're scrubbing away. Just make sure they don't brush too hard!
The earlier parents make brushing an enjoyable experience, the faster it will become a habit. You could also decide to give them rewards - maybe a week of great brushing equals 30 minutes of extra TV time on the weekend. For really small kids, you could read them a book during the brushing session.
Another option is creating a sort of "board" game around it. Draw a road map on a piece of paper with different stops. Each stop is a new level. After your child accomplishes a day of perfect brushing, you move a printout picture of him or her to the higher level, taping it to the next stop. If little Johnny skips a day, he goes back to square one. Post the paper on the wall of the bathroom so he can check his progress each day.
Finding the right dentist
Choosing a good dentist is another key part in maintaining a healthy smile for children. The best kind of dentist is someone who's patient, compassionate and works well with kids. If you get a friendly dentist, it's more likely your child will have a pleasant experience.
Breaking down oral health
Good oral health is instrumental in overall health, implying that teeth, gums and the mouth are clean and free of disease. As you may know from getting a toothache, poor oral health can affect quality of life by way of a person's ability to eat, sleep and function in day-to-day activities in class. Emphasizing the importance of brushing and flossing from a young age helps send home the idea.
Be sure to keep an eye out for bad breath, too. Oftentimes, little lads don't know quite know how to read social cues, and with stinky breath already a tricky problem to self-diagnose, it may sneak up on them even with indication from a friend.