February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Parents often struggle with how to get their children to brush their teeth regularly. The good news is that for those parents who put in the effort, their kids will usually develop good oral hygiene habits.
"It’s important for parents to start good oral hygiene habits with their children at a young age,” says Michelle Swift Corcoran, D.D.S. "It may seem like a difficult task, but it’s important enough to keep working on. I recommend they use an electric toothbrush and time it for two minutes. I have my two year old using a Spiderman electric tooth brush and that makes it a fun routine for him. Older kids can use an app on their phone to track how long they have brushed which keeps them entertained while they are brushing.”
Follow these tips to help your children learn good oral hygiene habits:
- Teach your children why it is so important.Discuss the reasons why they need to brush regularly, so they know why they are doing it. Picture books on the subject can support the lessons.
- Make it fun.When parents make brushing time fun, little kids are more likely to want to participate. Have a brushing song or fun routine that goes along with getting the job done each day.
- Give them rewards.Kids love to get rewards, even if it’s a sticker added to their sticker chart. Once they meet their brushing goals, take them to the store to pick out a book. This will help reinforce the habit.
- Praise their efforts.Rather than focus on where they fall short, keep it positive and congratulate them for their efforts. They can always go back and improve areas missed, but positive reinforcement goes a long way.
- Keep them accountable.Up until kids are around 8-9 years old, parents may need to go into the bathroom with children to ensure proper brushing is being done. While it may be inconvenient, establishing lifelong habits will benefit them greatly in the long run.
"The last thing parents want to do every morning and evening is argue with their kids about brushing their teeth,” adds Dr. Corcoran. "When you make a plan and stick to it, you’ll generally be more successful in getting them to form the brushing habit.”
For more information, visit www.michelleswiftdds.com or call (337) 478-2960.