February marks National Children's Dental Health Month. Dental health is incredibly important for not only adults, but children. Establishing good dental health early in a child's life, can play a major role in the habits, routines and relationship they have with their teeth. This can impact their overall health and well being. Trying to establish any type of routine with children may seem difficult at first. With dental health, there are a number of ways you can help your children achieve healthy habits. In this post, we help give you tips on how you can help establish good dental health in your children.
1. Explain the importance:
One of the first steps in helping build good dental health in children, is to first explain to them why it's important. Depending on their age, you can begin to show and describe the aspects of dental health and how it affects us. This can include explaining what our teeth are, how they help us to eat, and how and why we should keep them clean. The thought of the negative impacts of poor dental hygiene can be very scary, especially for a child. Keep the discussions honest, but in a way that they won't develop significant fears.
2. Demonstrate positive habits:
Another tip to help children with their dental hygiene, is demonstrate positive habits. Building off of our first tip, it is not only important to explain the importance of dental health, but to show it as well. Your normal routine is a great opportunity for children to watch you demonstrate maintaining dental health. As they watch, you can explain what you're doing and why. This can help encourage children to want to demonstrate their independence, and take care of their teeth as well. If they are younger, this can help them actually see what's been discussed, and how it's a normal not-so-scary aspect of self care.
3. Make it a game or song:
One of our favorite teaching tools, is to make anything a game or song. When it comes to teaching dental health, making what children need to know into a game or song, can make learning more entertaining, as well as being useful in reminding them of each aspect. For example, you can help them practice their counting, as they rinse with mouthwash for over a minute. Have them practice who can brush in circles, or who can remember when it's time to clean their teeth. With this, you can help get your children excited about all the things involved in dental care.
4. Establish a routine:
Establishing a routine, is a very crucial part of creating and maintaining good dental health. Once you have explained what is needed to help take care of your teeth, incorporate each aspect into your normal routine. Use signals and reminders for when and what your child is supposed to and what comes after the other. The more repetition they have, the easier it will be for them to continue their set habits as they get older.
5. Use toys to help:
Using toys is a great way to help teach and demonstrate different things to your children. There are many different dental learning toys that focus on the various tools you will come across, as well their uses. By having your children play with these toys, they can build an understanding and familiarity with what they might see in real dental situations. This can help ease any anxiety about dental offices, cleanings and dentist in general.
6. Create and maintain positive relationship with dentist:
Our last tip, is to create and maintain a positive relationship with your dentist. Children can be very hesitant, and even fearful of any type of health care. Even with adults, early negative experiences with dentists, can deter them from continuing or seeking any type of dental care. This can cause serious health issues, that could have been easily avoided. It's important to be patient with your children, and remind them why it's important to take care of their teeth and mouth. You can discuss with them about their dental visit, in simple terms. Introduce them to their dentist, and explain who they are, and how there there to help them. Make sure you focus on the children having a positive experience.
Here is a list a few helpful books that talk about dental health for children:
1. Brush Your Teeth Please (A Pop-up Book) By Jean Pidgeon
2. The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist By Stan and Jan Berenstain
3. What to Expect When You Go to the Dentist (What to Expect Kids) By Heidi Murkoff
4. Brush, Brush, Brush! (Rookie Toddler) By Alicia Padron
5. Floss Your Teeth! By Katie Marsico