This is the last in our series on children’s oral health and it is probably the most difficult. How do you get your child to form the good oral hygiene habits early that will pay overall health dividends throughout their life?
That’s the question, isn’t it? And the answer seems to be “patience and persistence” .
Parents often say that their children put up a fuss when it comes time to brush, floss, and rinse, so parents relent and don’t keep up with oral care at home as they should.
Our advice is for parents to let their children know they don’t have a choice about taking care of their teeth and gums.
We understand that children can get cranky and difficult. But here are a few tips to coax reluctant brushers and flossers to get the job done — or if they are too young, to allow their parents to help them do it.
- Plan to help your children longer than you may think necessary. Children don’t have the fine motor skills to brush their own teeth until about age 6. They get frustrated. Parental help often eases the frustration. And flossing skills don’t get good until later, probably age 10.
- Schedule the brushing and flossing and rinsing at times when your child is not overly tired. You may get more cooperation from a child who isn’t fatigued.
- Get your child involved in a way that’s age-appropriate. For instance, you might let a child who is age 5 or older pick his own toothpaste at the store, from options you approve. You could buy two or three different kinds of toothpaste and let the child choose which one to use each time. You may offer him a choice of toothbrushes, including kid-friendly ones that are brightly colored or decorated.
- Figure out what motivates your child. A younger child may gladly brush for a sticker, for instance, or gold stars on a chart.
Getting a child to “buy in” to the need for brushing and flossing may be a long and drawn out process that may frustrate parents at times, but you should realize that you’re helping to establish a very important habit for your children that will, over their lifetime, pay huge health benefits.
So stick with it – and at some point in their lives, they’ll thank you for your effort.
Brush and floss!
Mall of Georgia Dentistry