Have you ever been given the advice to train your child early on certain behaviors and attitudes? Were you ever warned with the analogy that “Tree which grows bent will never get straight again”? There may be some truth to this for many aspects of life.
This includes how we care for our teeth and what we do to ensure that our children also have great oral health.
Children should be taught from an early age about the importance of oral care and yes, the first step towards it -how to brush and how frequently to brush. It is advised that a parent should start oral care right from Day one.
Using a damp cloth or a xylitol wipe around the mouth of your infant after feeding, will do the job of cleaning for that age. Once your infant has sprouted a tooth, proceed to get an age appropriate toothbrush with water to keep that tooth clean.
By the time your young one is two years old, fluoride toothpaste may be introduced to strengthen the teeth and to help in fighting against tooth decay where that may be a concern.
Children 6 – 8 years old should be encouraged to brush their teeth themselves, still under the guidance of their parents. Now this is where there needs to be some creativity to encourage the habit of brushing teeth.
Just the Basics
There are a couple somewhat daunting and boring activities that need to take place regardless of how you may wish to encourage your children to maintain their oral health. These include:
Leading by example. Simply put, practice what you preach. Children are great copy cats, of what you say and don’t say, of what you do and don’t do. They are always seeking to learn and absorb what they see and hear around them. Brushing regularly should be a procedure that is done no matter what – they will get the message, sometimes without you having to send them.
As a parent or guardian, have you ever realized that that infants and children love routine? Of course, there are some exceptions to this observation. Ensure that the routine is established – brushing of teeth is to take place twice a day, morning and evening. Visits to the dental center should be part of the routine
Be a Teacher
Children love a little encouragement to get them into the habit of doing the right things. Word associations, songs and other creative means give them something to look forward to. Such mundane task can be made interesting and something to look forward to, instead of something to shun.
Here are just a few ideas you may use to encourage your children to brush their teeth:
1. Colorful and fun instruments will help the children look forward to the brushing activity. Toothbrushes may be of their favorite colors, cartoon characters, with suction cups at their base as well as toothbrushes which light up by pressing a button while they brush. It does not stop there. Floss may be of different colors and flavors – likewise the toothpaste may be multi-colored and flavored.
2. Angela Thayer presents An “Egg-cellent” way to learn about teeth using hard boiled eggs, toothbrush, toothpaste, colored drink and a screwdriver. You can try this with your young children as this activity teaches them about what the teeth looks like before brushing and what happens when the teeth are brushed. The screwdriver helps in the discussions around cavities. This is an excellent way to demonstrate the importance of brushing regularly.
3. Get a brushing calendar. The children will check off every time they brush their teeth as well as floss. A special treat can be given at the end of every week or every month. They will be motivated to get their ‘brush on’ every day.
4. Teach your children that the dentist is their friend and he help to keep the nasties away! One helpful way of getting this done is buying toys where they learn about brushing teeth, but they can also pretend to be the dentist to clean their patients’ teeth. One such toy is Play Doh’s Play-Doh Doctor Drill 'n Fill Retro Pack.
5. Singing songs and saying simple little poems about brushing teeth, visiting the dentist can help to keep your lessons interesting.
Here are a few:
Brushing Song (Sung to the tune of B-I-N-G-O)
In my mouth I have some teeth,E-I-E-I-O
And in my mouth I put my brush,E-I-E-I-O
With a brush, brush here,and a brush, brush there
Here a brush,There a brush
Everywhere a brush, brush
In my mouth I'll keep my teeth,E-I-E-I-O
Your Teeth Are Important
Your teeth are important - they help you chew
They help you to smile and say, "How do you do?"
Be sure to take care of them morning and night
By brushing and flossing, you'll keep your teeth bright
I have tools that help to make
Those cavity creeps take a break
So, come to see me twice a year
Just walk right in- there's nothing to fear
I'll check your teeth and make them shine,
And your teeth will stay happy, healthy, and fine.
Do you know?
Brushing using your "other hand" or the non dominant hand keeps your brain fit !!!
Happy Brushing Up & Down and all Around