Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

Five Ways To Help Your Children Develop A Good Dental Routine

Dental care is important for both kids and adults. Without a good dental hygiene routine, a wide range of health issues can arise.

These health issues are not just confined to cavities and toothache; strokes and heart disease have also been linked to bacteria that incubate in the mouth. Taking care of the teeth when you are young is essential to prevent gum disease in later life. As a parent, you have a responsibility to keep your children’s teeth clean, but you also need to teach your children how to carry out this important job for themselves. Developing good dental routines when your children are young means that when they are older the routines will be part of their everyday lives. Here are five ways to help your children develop a good dental routine.

Establish clear morning and bedtime routines. Kids are more likely to remember to clean their teeth if it is part of a regular routine. Try to get them into bed at roughly the same time each night, and make teeth cleaning part of a list of things they need to do in preparation for going to sleep. Most young kids love having someone read to them, so you could set up the routine so that they get a bedtime story only once they have brushed their teeth.

Set a good example. Kids learn by example, so make sure your own dental routine is up to scratch before you start working on theirs! It’s a good idea to brush your teeth at the same time as your kids so that it becomes a family activity rather than a chore made up to torture them. Similarly, let your kids see you using mouthwash and flossing after meals.

Encourage your kids to develop a taste for tooth-healthy foods. Keep your kids away from sugar, which is addictive and causes teeth to rot, and instead encourage them to snack on colourful and crunchy carrot sticks. Praise your children for making tooth-friendly choices when selecting snacks.

Make a star-chart. Every time your child brushes their teeth without you having to nag at them, they get a star. If they have a full set of stars by the end of the week, then they are allowed to have a treat, such as going to a movie or getting a new book. Try not to make the treats food-based, as feeding your kids sugar as a reward for good dental hygiene is self-defeating.

Use modern technology. There are child-friendly smart phone apps on the market that show your kids how to brush their teeth properly. StarTeeth, available for iOS, is an app that uses funny characters to make daily brushing fun for young children. Older kids might benefit from apps that remind them to brush or floss after lunch.

If you can get your kids to develop good habits when they are young, then they will continue to take care of their teeth into adulthood and old age. Even if it is difficult at first, don’t give up: with a little patience and the right guidance, children will eventually come to see taking care of their teeth as a necessary and straightforward part of daily life.

Guest post contributed for

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.
Tim Esterdahl

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