6 Ways to Get Your Kids Excited About Dental Hygiene
According to the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation, more than 40 percent of children have dental cavities by the time they reach kindergarten. Trying to get your kids to brush their teeth can feel like a daily struggle, right up there with trying to get them to eat their vegetables, take a bath or go to bed. But helping to promote healthy dental hygiene practices is essential given the prevalence of pediatric tooth decay.
Untreated cavities can lead to infections and potential tooth loss. Some parents may incorrectly think that dental care for baby teeth isn’t really as important because they’re going to fall out anyway. The reality is, if bad dental hygiene habits are allowed to develop at a young age, it could lead to a variety of serious and costly oral health problems down the line.
Here are six creative ways to get your kids excited about dental hygiene:
1. Make it a Family Thing
One way to make dental hygiene more exciting for your kids is to make it a family thing. Get into the habit of brushing and flossing together with your kids so that they can learn from what you’re doing, and get some quality family time together as well. Show your kids the proper way to brush your teeth and floss so that they can learn by example.
2. Let Them Pick Their Toothbrush
Sometimes it’s the simplest of things that can make the biggest difference. Take your kids to the store and let them choose their own ADA-approved toothbrush. That way they can pick their favorite color, or their favorite cartoon character and get excited whenever it’s time to brush. Whatever it takes to help make the practice of brushing their teeth more fun.
3. Flavored Toothpaste
Instead of sharing your boring mint-flavored toothpaste with your kids, try finding a kid-friendly toothpaste that is ADA approved. Companies like Crest and Colgate (among others) have a number of toothpaste options for kids with flavors like bubblegum, strawberry, watermelon and more. Just make sure they don’t get into the habit of eating it.
4. Positive Reinforcement
To help reinforce the importance of twice-daily teeth brushing and flossing, try turning it into a game by giving your kids gold stars or stickers as a reward whenever they complete the process. You can keep a chart that shows their progress with special prizes along the way.
You can also schedule something fun for the same day as a dentist appointment. After a visit to the dentist, take your kids to the park or the zoo. This sort of positive reinforcement can help make dental hygiene an enjoyable experience.
5. Make it Entertaining
There are a number of books and cartoons geared towards dental hygiene that can help convey the importance of brushing your teeth and flossing in a fun, kid-friendly way. You can also inject a bit of entertainment into the actual practice of brushing and flossing by making up a little song or dance to do while your kids are brushing and flossing. Anything you can do to help liven up the experience and make it something your kids look forward to is worth consideration.
6. Choose the Right Dentist
There are a number of pediatric dental practices that are specifically tailored to the treatment of children. Take some time to research reviews of the various pediatric dentists practicing in your area in an effort to find the right one for your kids.
Pediatric dentistry practices run the gamut, with some offering a number of extra benefits geared towards making dentistry fun for your kids. This can include things like having a bright, colorful office, a playroom filled with games and toys, video games in the waiting room, prizes or gift bags for successful visits, and more.
The more fun you can inject into the practice of dental hygiene and dentist visits, the more likely you’ll be able to establish an excellent oral health foundation on which your kids can grow.