Every February we celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month. This provides our office the opportunity to talk to children about the importance of their oral health. Here are some tips to help you with your little ones:
AGES 3 TO 7
- Show, Don’t Tell
Floss once a day and brush and rinse twice a day, every day. Share the experience with your child. When leading by example, kids are likely to imitate behavior and make oral hygiene feel less like a “kid thing.”
- Make Oral Care Fun
Turn flossing into a funny-face contest, or make brushing a “Simon says” game by calling out different parts of the mouth. Try rinsing with mouthwash as a family and see who can go the longest without laughing.
- Reward Healthy Behavior
Offer rewards for achieving brushing, flossing, and rinsing goals. Post a calendar in the bathroom and reward kids with a gold star for each day of great oral care. At the end of each month, praise kids for a job well done.
AGES 8 TO 10
- Provide Proof
Visual cues serve as powerful motivation for kids. Post pictures of great smiles of favorite role models in the bathroom. Use a children’s mouthwash that attracts the particles that brushing can leave behind, giving kids reason to
believe that rinsing works—the proof is in the sink.
- Let Kids Decide
Give kids the freedom to make decisions. Let them choose their favorite toothbrush, a cool toothpaste, and type of floss. Then keep the bathroom stocked.
- Clean to the beat
Brushing, flossing, and rinsing are all rhythmic activities. Play music to help kids enjoy oral care routines. On average, brushing should last two minutes and rinsing 60 seconds. Together these activities last the length of a typical song.
AGES 11 TO 12
- Embrace the Power of the Brush
At this age, kids become increasingly aware and often self-conscious of appearances. Remind kids about the power of a healthy smile to build their confidence.
- Recruit Others
Enlist older siblings and other family members to encourage proper oral hygiene. Another voice for good care can be influential and make a powerful impact on kids’ behavior.