Dental Health for Kids
Kids, especially babies and toddlers can be quite resistant when it comes to dental health. Chances are if your child is between the ages of 6 months to 2 years old, they fight you every morning and night when it comes to teeth brushing. What is even more challenging is taking them to the dentist for cleanings twice a year, which can be a very scary experience for them to process.
As a parent, you know that your child needs to brush regularly and visit the dentist to ensure optimal oral health, but in their little minds, they are not quite sure what is going on and they may not want anything to do with it. With that in mind, there are ways you can comfort and motivate them to see the importance of dental health, getting them on board with the concept much quicker to release their fears and/or retaliation ticks.
Build Healthy Habits Through Repetition
Getting into a dental routine is all about building habits that your child can thrive upon. This includes brushing in the morning and at night at the same times each day, maybe additional brushing after eating anything too sugary (such as gummies or chocolate), and going in a certain order for them to memorize. For example, start in the back, work their way to the front, and save the tongue for last. This repetition is what will form these healthy habits and stick with them.
Preparing Them for Dentist Trips
This is a big one, and should never be skipped when it comes to parenting. If you are going to the dentist for the first time, the best thing you can do is prepare your little one on what to expect, but in a simplified way. Walk them through the process, but get them excited about it at the same time to ease their minds. You can also do things such as play “dentist” at home for them to get a better understanding, ask your dentist if you can go there a day or two beforehand so your kid can feel out the place and meet the doctor ahead of time, and go over why clean teeth are important in general. Your child might still be nervous, but it is still much better for them to have this base than going into it blind.
Never Skip Brushing
No matter how tired your child is, or how much they are refusing to brush, never skip it. This will be a testing time for the both of you, but when they realize that brushing teeth is not a choice, but necessary, they will get it over time. You just have to stand firm on the topic. What may help is giving them the ability to have a choice in something else afterwards, such as deciding what they want for lunch or what game to play next so they feel they have a bit of control still.
Read Dental Books and Watch Educational Videos
Try investing in some dental books and similar videos on the topic. Kids are little sponges, absorbing information easily, quickly, and effectively. So do not underestimate the power of reading and showing the educational videos on dentistry/oral health. If the content is fun and engaging, they will pay attention and adapt to what they learn.
Lead by Example
One of the biggest ways you can promote dental health is by doing it yourself. Your kids watch everything you do, so if they see you skipping teeth brushing at night, they will think they can too. Not only will this mindset make your child foster better motivation and guidance, but it will also give you more inventive to stick with your own dental care, thus having better oral health yourself.
Parenting is a hard gig, and it can be difficult to chase your child with a toothbrush every evening because they hate doing it. It is certainly a power struggle, but over time, with the right preparation and motivation toward dental health, that phase should fizzle out over time. Just remember, you are doing what is best for your child, and even if they are unable to see that effort now, they will surely thank you later.