How to Instill Good Dental Habits in Children

Every parent knows that children grow up fast. Before you know it, your little toothless baby has a mouth full of teeth that need to be kept clean. Brushing your young child’s teeth is not always the easiest of tasks, given that they tend to resist it. It is important as a parent to remain consistent and adamant about building positive dental habits with your children. This article will share some steps that parents can take to instill healthy dental habits in their young children.

Some of the points will discuss include:

  1. Find ways to make tooth brushing fun.
  2. Set a positive example.
  3. Talk to your child about dental hygiene and why it is important. 
  4. Plan their first dental visit at the right time. 
  5. Be firm with routine. 

Find Ways to Make Tooth Brushing Fun

One of the best ways to get young children excited about anything is to help them associate it with fun. There are a few ways that you can make tooth brushing fun such as making up a song that you and your child sing together while you brush or purchasing a variety of toothbrushes and allowing your child to pick out their favorite one each time. Your child might also get excited about tooth brushing if you tell them that they can brush the teeth of their favorite stuffed animal or doll as well. Allow your child to pretend to brush their doll’s teeth while you brush yours to help them get more excited about this routine. 

Set a Positive Example

It’s no secret that children like to copy their parents. One incredibly effective way to motivate your child to brush their teeth is by leading by example. Allow your child plenty of opportunities to witness you brushing your teeth and flossing so that they can be more inspired to give it a try themselves. You can also try brushing your teeth around the same time when you brush your child’s teeth so that they can feel like they have company with their tooth brushing routine. 

Talk to Your Child About Dental Hygiene 

Strong communication is hugely beneficial when working to instill positive dental habits for your young child. Talk to your child about why it is important to brush their teeth and why you do it. It is also helpful to tell your child how you enjoy brushing your teeth because it makes your mouth feel clean afterward. Try to help them see it more as an important way to take care of themselves, rather than an undesirable task. 

Plan Their First Dental Visit at the Right Time

It is recommended that parents take their children to their first dental visit within six months of their first tooth appearing, or by their first birthday. This may sound early to some parents but it is important that children get their teeth professionally cleaned early on to ensure optimal dental health in the future. Your child’s first dental visit is also an important opportunity for your dentist to evaluate them for any issues with jaw or teeth development. Early dental visits give dentists the opportunity to fix any issues before they become severe. 

Be Firm With Routine

Most toddlers and babies will protest brushing their teeth. It is important to be firm and make sure to explain the importance of tooth brushing to your child, even from a very young age. By always sticking to a routine, your child will slowly but surely get used to the task of tooth brushing and eventually they may even begin to like it. Clearly explain to your child that tooth brushing is non-negotiable and that it is something important that we must do every day. 

How to Prepare for Your Child’s First Dental Visit

If your child already protests simple tooth brushing, you may be a little nervous about their first time visiting a dentist. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the dentist can be a scary experience for young children. Below, we’ve listed a few tips to help you prepare yourself and your child for their first trip to the dentist. 

  • Schedule your child’s first dental visit within six months of their first tooth appearing and no later than their first birthday. By beginning their dental care early in life, they will soon get used to the process of visiting the dentist and it won’t be a very scary experience later on. 
  • Be sure to ask any questions or concerns you may have prior to the visit such as what to expect at the first visit and any preparation you can do ahead of time, such as filling out paperwork beforehand. 
  • Communicate effectively with your child about the dentist and try to run them through a pretend dental visit beforehand. Explain to them that they’ll be seated in a big chair and that they’ll have to open their mouth while the dentist examines their teeth. You can even use a doll or stuffed animal to show them an example. 
  • Most dental offices will allow you to sit in the chair with your child in your lap so that your child can be comforted by you. If your dentist doesn’t offer this option, be sure to check in to see if it is possible since it can help make the process a bit easier for everyone. 
  • Be sure to schedule your appointment at a practical time, working around nap time. The last thing you want is to schedule the appointment during a typical nap time and bring your child when they’re already fussy and irritable.
  • Make sure to feed your child adequately and brush their teeth before their first visit to the dentist. You can also pack some snacks to give them afterward as well. 

Dental hygiene is an incredibly important part of raising a child. Although it can be difficult to get young children, toddlers, and babies to agree with tooth brushing, it is important to be adamant as a parent and remember that it will eventually get easier.