Think back to when you were a kid. Did you like brushing and flossing, or did it seem like a chore? How you felt about taking care of your teeth as a kid probably had an impact on how well you took care of them. So now, as a parent, try to make brushing and flossing fun and educational experiences for your kids so that they form good dental habits for life. Knowing how to teach good oral hygiene and practicing it yourself are two different things. We’re at the tail end of February, Children’s Dental Hygiene Month, so there is no better time than the present to learn how to teach good oral hygiene to your kids.
How to Teach Good Oral Hygiene
Review the Basics
Even though you brush and floss every day, you probably don’t think about all the steps involved. Here are few quick reminders on how to teach good oral hygiene:
- Show your child how to hold their toothbrush at a 45° angle, and teach them to use gentle and fast back-and-forth motions.
- Make sure to tell your child to brush the front, back, and chewing surfaces of all their teeth. Don’t forget to show them how to brush along their gum lines and their tongue as well.
- Since children learn to read from left to right, some kids might find it helpful to start on the left side of their mouth and work to the right side. There is no right order, however, so it is okay for your child to work in whatever way feels natural.
- When it comes to flossing, your child might need more help and guidance until they reach an older age. Still, it is never too early to explain the basics. Teach them the importance of following the curve of each tooth, gently getting under the gumline, and using a fresh section of floss between each tooth.
- Children and adults should spend at least two minutes brushing their teeth twice a day, and floss at least once a day.
Show and Explain
Since kids have different learning styles, use a combination of approaches. For example, while you are showing your child how to brush their teeth, have them look in the mirror so they can watch you. Then, verbally explain what you are doing. So if you are telling your child to use back-and-forth motions, show them and say it out loud. Then, have them give it a try. If your child learns best by reading and writing, take advantage of free, fun worksheets available online that focus on dental health.
Most kids are naturally curious, so tell them why it is important to brush and floss in the first place. Make sure to explain good oral hygiene habits in simple terms. Don’t forget to encourage your children to also eat healthily and drink plenty of water to keep their teeth healthy.
Make It Fun
Brushing and flossing don’t have to be mundane activities. Consider buying your child a special toothbrush that features his or her favorite cartoon character. Or, choose a toothbrush that plays a fun song for two minutes, and tell your child to keep brushing until the song ends. Another way to motivate your children to brush and floss their teeth daily is to use a reward chart. If your children brush and floss each day for a week, present them with a small prize or take them on a family outing.
Finally, establish the importance of oral care by brushing and flossing together as a family. Parents, grandparents, and older siblings are often role models for young kids. If your children see you setting a good example, they are more likely to brush and floss properly on their own.
Although learning how to teach good oral hygiene is important, it is still crucial to bring your child to a dentist regularly. Partnering with your family dentist to care for your child’s teeth can help ensure that his or her smile stays healthy for years to come. Are you looking for an experienced, reliable, and friendly dentist for your children? If you live in or near Springfield, Missouri, contact Wilkinson Dental. Dr. Wilkinson and his team will give your children the personalized treatment they deserve using state-of-the-art technology. For exceptional and comprehensive dental care, schedule your child’s first appointment today by calling 417-708-0556 or requesting an appointment online. We look forward to hearing from you!