‘As a dentist, I spend a lot of time looking into kids’ mouths and helping parents understand the best ways to maintain and improve their children’s oral health. Visiting the dentist is key to maintaining good oral health, but I can also tell you that some of the most important oral care moments happen at home.
Brushing for two minutes, twice a day, is one of the best ways that parents can help their children fight cavities and protect their young teeth. In my practice, we make dental visits fun by including games and characters; doing this at home can truly help make the experience more enjoyable for both parents and children and help establish a lifetime of good habits.’
Little Ones (0-3 years old)
- Dental Visits Start Early: There can be some confusion around when to bring your child to the dentist, but the recommendation is to schedule an appointment as soon as their first tooth appears, usually around 6 months of age. After that, you should continue to take your children as often as your dental professional recommends.
- Lead by Example: Kids will naturally want to take over brushing and do it for themselves, which is an exciting step. A great way to transition the brushing responsibility is for you to first brush their teeth showing the proper technique, and then hand over the brush to let them practice and do it for themselves. But they’re not going to be a brushing expert right away and don’t expect them to stick to 2 minutes without encouragement – keep supervising their brushing, sometimes even to the age of 10.
School-Aged (3-12 years old)
- Food for Thought: Make sure your child is eating a healthy breakfast every morning; it will improve energy and concentration, helping them have a more productive day. Monitor what’s available on the lunchtime menu at school and discuss the healthier options with your child to limit snacking on sugary foods and drinks throughout the day. Or your can take control of lunch and pack your children a healthy lunchbox with a good mix of starches, veggies, protein and some fruit.
- Offer FUN Choices: Have plenty of oral care supplies on hand for your kids, and make sure they are in the flavors and designs they’ll be excited to use. Characters help unlock a child’s imagination and can keep them focused on doing routine tasks- and when they enjoy something, they’re more likely to stick with it!
- Mirror Mirror: Encourage your kids to brush in front of a mirror and pay close attention to what they are doing; it will help them focus on areas they may otherwise miss, especially if they are getting distracted by their social media alerts. Try playing their favorite songs to make the time pass quickly and congratulate them on their focus.