Encouraging your kids to clean their teeth on a daily basis – helpful advice from our Canterbury dentist
If you have children, it’s fair to expect that they may not always become the exact type of child that you expected them to be. As they grow up and discover the world around them, they become influenced by things outside of the parental sphere.
By and large this is a good thing and it helps them to develop and hopefully grow into healthy, functional adults.
The journey along the way can be challenging for parents though, and whilst it is good to let kids develop, there are still certain things that we need them to do to maintain a healthy lifestyle. One of these of course, is to keep their teeth in good condition. The most basic, but essential way to do this is to make sure that they clean their teeth both morning and night. Easy? Well perhaps for some parents, but others may find more resistance to what, to us adults, seems a simple thing to do.
With this in mind, the team at Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic have put together a few tips that might just help to make the task just that little bit easier for some parents.
Don’t make them use the same toothpastes as the adults
Some types of ‘grown up’ toothpastes are not suitable for young children. Even where they are though, they may taste ‘disgusting’ to a child. It is better to let them have a say in the type and flavour of toothpaste that they choose. There are now a wide range of these available in a number of different flavours that will appeal to a younger person’s palate. Do make sure that the one they select is age appropriate though. This is usually clearly marked on the packaging.
Do as I do and not as I say!
There is no point in telling your child to brush their teeth both morning and night if you don’t do so yourself. Children tend to copy what we do at a young age, so now might be a good time to look at your own routine. Not only will this help you to avoid problems such as tooth decay and gum disease, but will help your children too.
Choosing the right brush
Whilst some kids will be fine with any type of brush, others may be less so. There are many different types of toothbrush available including those designed to represent cartoon or TV characters. Let your child choose their favourite and with luck, it will encourage them to look forward to cleaning their teeth. Although not essential, it is a good idea to buy an electric brush. That way, when little arms are tired at the end of the day, the brush will do much of the work and help to keep their teeth clean.
Doing ‘deals’ with the kids
Children don’t take long to figure out that there are deals to be made with their parents. A popular one is along the lines of ‘if I clean my teeth tonight, can I have extra sweets in the morning’. It is best not to give in to anything that will harm their oral health, but you may want to use stickers or other systems to reward them, perhaps offering a small (non tooth threatening) treat when they achieve a certain goal.
Even though your child may know how to brush their teeth, that does not mean that they will always do it well, especially if left to their own devices. Try to supervise them as much as you can so that they grow up with healthy teeth. Make sure too, that they brush for at least two minutes. That is actual brushing time, not singing into the toothbrush!
Make it fun
Especially when they are tired, cleaning their teeth can feel like a chore to young children. It doesn’t have to be this way though and there are many novelty timers, and even phone apps, that can be used to make the whole process much more fun for them. Making use of this will help them to keep their teeth clean and probably make life much easier for the parents too.
The dental floss conundrum
Using dental floss to keep the spaces between the teeth clean is important, and every adult should floss on a daily basis. It is not feasible to expect young children to to this though, even though good gum health is important for them too. One alternative which is helpful is to allow them to chew sugar free chewing gum, when they are old enough. This will help to collect some of the food particles and ‘bad’ bacteria from between the teeth. Flossing can then be introduced a little later on.
Remember that, whilst maintaining this daily routine is essential for healthy teeth and gums, your children will also need to see a dentist on a regular basis to help maintain good oral health. Our child friendly team are here to help and you can make an appointment to see us by calling our Canterbury dental practice on 01227 463529.