teaching kids good dental habits

How to Teach Good Dental Hygiene for Kids

Teaching your child good dental habits is crucial in their development. Keeping teeth clean and healthy adds to a child’s overall health. Because of this, it’s important for children to understand how to take care of their smiles.

How Do You Teach Children Good Dental Hygiene?

There are plenty of ways to help kids maintain their oral health, but the best habits start at home!

  • Establish a brushing and flossing routine as young as age 1.
  • Brush and floss in front of them.
  • Talk about the importance of good dental habits.
  • Use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste on your child’s soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • Start flossing as soon as your child’s teeth touch.
  • Visit the dentist twice a year for cleanings and exams.

At What Age Do You Start Brushing Your Child’s Teeth?

You should start cleaning your child’s teeth as soon as you see any erupt – typically this happens between 6 months and their first birthday.  Start by wiping your baby’s teeth with a soft cloth or soft-bristled toothbrush and water. Then at 18 months, you can move up to using a pea-size low-fluoride toothpaste. Make sure your child spits out the toothpaste after brushing and don’t rinse. It’s best to do this twice a day.

Parents are encouraged to brush and floss their child’s teeth up until 6 years old, or until he or she is coordinated enough to do it on their own (usually they can tie their own shoes by then). However, you should still help and monitor them up until 7 or 8 years old. Flossing can especially be tricky, but luckily there are Y-shaped flossing tools that can make it easier. You might even find some with fun designs!

How to Make Dental Hygiene Fun for Kids

Teaching good oral hygiene doesn’t have to be boring. Making brushing and flossing a little more fun can help kids stick to a healthy routine.

  • Choose a fun toothbrush. Let your child choose their toothbrush which can come in a variety of colors and themes. They can have their favorite cartoon, TV show, or movie characters depicted.  Make the experience as personalized and colorful as possible!
  • Pick tasty toothpaste. With a new toothbrush comes new toothpaste. Mint-flavored toothpaste might not appeal to your child, so opt for a fruity and fun flavor he or she will enjoy. You can find flavors like strawberry, watermelon, and bubblegum. Plus, some kids’ toothpaste features their favorite cartoon and movie characters. A toothpaste that tastes and looks good helps keep kids interested in cleaning their teeth.
  • Set a 2-minute timer. We all know that you should brush your teeth for at least two minutes. To a child, however, that could seem like forever. Try playing their favorite song for a couple of minutes to pass the time.
  • Give out rewards. Giving your child a reward for practicing good oral hygiene is a great motivator. Don’t give sugar as a reward, instead give them a toy or activity that they will enjoy. You can also have a gold star reward system where your child puts a gold star sticker on a calendar for every day they brush their teeth. Maybe when they fill up an entire week or month, they get a prize.
  • Be an example. A great way to get your child to practice good hygiene habits is to show them that you practice too. Brush and floss together so your child can mimic what you do. If our child isn’t old enough to do it on their own, floss and brush your teeth first then help them with their own. This helps set a routine and makes it more family-oriented.
  • Gather resources. There is no shortage of videos and books out there that focus on dental hygiene for children. Go to the library with your child and have them pick out a couple of these learning materials. Children’s resources are designed to make dental hygiene simple and fun.

Schedule Your Child ‘s Dental Appointment Today

Dental hygiene is important for children to learn. Luckily it doesn’t have to be boring as there are plenty of ways to sprinkle a little fun into brushing and flossing teeth in between dental visits. Remember, teaching good dental hygiene starts with you, the parent.
Schedule an appointment with our pediatric dentist today!