There are a lot of us who sit in dentist offices waiting to have root canals and cavities filled who wished that we had taken what our parents taught us more seriously when it came to caring for our teeth. The “silver lining” is that now that we have our own children, we can pass down some of the knowledge that we were given, while sharing with the them fact that we have firsthand knowledge of what can happen if you neglect your pearly whites.
Below are five things that every child should know when it comes to learning how to care for their own teeth. And if you teach them well, they are tips that will last them a lifetime:
Get them a toothbrush as soon as possible. Some people may not think that a child needs a toothbrush until they have several teeth, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The moment that a child starts cutting their first few, it’s time to get them one. Baby Buddy is a company that makes a toothbrush called “Baby’s First Toothbrush” (Oral B has something similar as well) that is plastic, soft and is great for brushing teeth as well as massaging gums. Until your child can hold it for themselves, you can assist. The point here is that the sooner using a toothbrush becomes incorporated into their daily lifestyle, the better.
Let them pick. As your child gets older, give them some independence when it comes to brushing and flossing their teeth by allowing them to pick out the color toothbrush that they want and asking them to show you what they know as it relates to how to floss correctly. You can even do it together in the morning and evening time and perhaps make up a song about the right steps to take.
Use some illustrations. Children tend to remember things when they are given illustrations to help them understand the importance of certain issues. Something that you can do to show them how a cavity affects a tooth is to cut out a chunk of an apple. Then, explain to them that the apple represents the tooth and the cut out piece represents the cavity. Let it sit out for a couple of days and as the apple begins to brown in that area, tell them that is what happens when a tooth starts to decay due to having too much sugar and not brushing and flossing (or visiting the dentist) regularly.
Get them used to going to the dentist (early). One of the main reasons why so many adults dread going to the dentist is because they put it off until there is a major crisis. When that happens, there can be shots, drilling and oral surgery involved due to all of the damage that has happened to their mouths over time. However, if you take your child to the dentist as soon as they turn one, not only will this give the dentist time to assist you in developing the right kinds of habits for them, but it will also get your child used to it being a part of their yearly health requirements (like their annual physical at the doctor’s office). So, whether it’s going to see pediatric dentists in Mission Viejo, Dallas or wherever you may presently live, make sure that you set a dentist appointment up for your child as early as you can.
Lead by example. You are your child’s greatest influence and so when it comes to caring for your teeth, eating healthy and going to the dentist, set a great example for your child by brushing and flossing daily, keeping sweets to a minimum and even taking your child along with you to the dentist from time to time. When they see mommy enjoying oral care, they will learn to find the fun in it too!