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

How to Explain Cavities and Oral Care to Your Pre-K Child

The good habits that keep us healthy in adulthood are often the ones that we cultivated when we were very young. No child understands the importance of hygiene and discipline on their own, but if their parents guide them down the right path, they’re likely to develop healthy habits that serve them well throughout their lives.

If a child is never taught the importance of oral hygiene and dental health, they’ll suffer for it later in life. Many adults with serious dental problems and gum diseases were raised in homes where the importance of brushing and flossing were never stressed. To ensure your child doesn’t go down this toxic road, here are some tips on how to explain cavities and oral care to your young child.

Create a Ritual and a Routine

Oftentimes, children learn that they need to do something before they understand why they have to do it. Kids know that baths are an essential part of winding down at the end of the day, even if they don’t yet understand the concept of hygiene or germs. Ensure that twice-a-day brushing and flossing is just a ritual and a routine that your child accepts without question. Never under any circumstances allow your kids to skip their oral hygiene routine, no matter how tired or cranky they may be.

Explain That Health Takes Work

Don’t be afraid to explain to your child that being healthy requires hard work and discipline. Many parents are afraid of “putting too much pressure” on their children or making them feel guilty about anything. It’s perfectly okay to explain that healthy teeth are the result of regular oral hygiene and that a failure to care for one’s smile can lead to consequences.

Fight the Dentist Fear

Dentists are inherently scary to little kids. Their offices are full of strange and sharp tools and it can often be a place where they have to endure some mild discomfort. Remind your young child that your family’s Medicaid dentist is a friend, not a foe. Tell your kids that your dentist only wants what’s best for them and isn’t there to harm them or scare them.

The habits that you instill in your children now will be the tools they utilize to live their lives as healthy adults. Your kids might give you some resistance when it comes to proper oral hygiene, but they’ll thank you in a few decades when they’re adults with beautiful teeth.

Tim Esterdahl

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