Instilling Healthy Oral Habits for Your Child

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As your child grows, instilling healthy oral habits is vital for developing teeth and gums. Beginning in infancy, clean your baby’s gums with a soft cloth moistened with plain water. When teething starts, gently clean newly emerging teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush, adding a tiny dab of toothpaste when they are around 12 months. While you will have to help them when they are small, there are things you can do to make it fun for them as they learn to take over.

Show your child what healthy habits look like by letting them watch you brush your teeth, or even making it a family activity. As your child’s first teacher and role model, getting in on the fun will delight and rub off on them. Younger children love to mimic, even more so if you playfully exaggerate your own excitement. Make this a game and they will be hooked!

Because young children are motivated by pleasure rather than necessity, they often respond better to cute songs you can invent about fighting the “plaque monsters” or “cavity creatures”. Having fun while learning makes them forget this is lifetime skill they are happily developing.

Another motivating game is to set up a rewards chart for them to use while they keep track of daily brushing time. Because they need to learn to brush for at least two minutes, it can be fun for them to have a playful timer for them to set and follow. This allows them to track their “success” and offering small rewards gives them added motivation to work towards something fun.

Appealing to your child’s developing independence by letting them pick their own toothbrush will add to their willingness to brush. There are character-themed children’s toothbrushes ranging from Sponge Bob to Minnie Mouse. Just make sure that it is soft-bristled and carries the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance on it to ensure that it is safe and effective.

Most adult toothpastes are too strong-flavored for tiny taste buds. Kid-friendly flavors include bubblegum, strawberry and even orange, so just check for the ADA Seal of Acceptance on the label and you are good to go.

Flossing should start as soon as your child has at least two teeth that are touching. While they are developing fine motor skills you will need to help them with flossing. When they are ready, give them hand-held flossers which are easy to use and effective at reaching the molars in the back of the mouth.

As a parent, helping your child learn how to care for their pearly whites is one of the most rewarding skills you can instill for a lifetime of healthy smiles! If you have any questions, or to schedule an appointment, please call Oxford Lakes Dental Care at 248-628-2540 today.


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