Perhaps the most important part of a parent’s job is to teach one’s children effective and healthy habits to last a lifetime. While parents often have a large amount of control over very young children’s diets and dentists, children gain greater independence as they grow older. If they have been taught basic oral health skills and why they are important, they will hopefully continue to follow a healthy regime, even without parents looking over their shoulders.
One of the most basic skills any child should know is how to brush their teeth. Just as important, children should understand why this process is necessary. The effect of inadequate brushing can take years to show, so children do not always understand why they need to clean their teeth every night and morning.
To encourage this important habit, try making it a game. Let your child “follow” a specific character around his or her mouth to make sure that your entire mouth is cleansed. Your child likes to chase plaque “bugs” or to follow a character he or she likes from books or movies. Small rewards can also help; Receiving stickers for placing on a card is a common motivator.
To help your child understand why this non-fun process is needed, you can choose one of a variety of children’s videos and books that illustrate this concept. It may also be a good idea to show your child images of tooth decay that are not too graphic to illustrate what might happen. A good dentist will also be able to explain the importance of this habit and demonstrate how to do it correctly.
Of course, brushing is not the only aspect of dental hygiene. Following a good diet can also contribute to strong teeth in addition to overall physical health. In general, children who have learned to eat healthy from a young age will find it much easier to do so as adults.
Try for example. To use healthy foods as treats and rewards rather than overly sugary snacks. This can help teach kids to enjoy fruits and vegetables rather than seeing them as something boring that their parents force them to eat. Keeping glucose and caffeine to a minimum can greatly reduce a child’s risk of cavity formation and may even contribute to improved behavior.
Teaching a child good habits is not easy. Many parents have to try a number of tips and techniques before finding something that works well. The important thing is to not get too discouraged and continue to focus on children’s health.
For more children’s advice on oral health, contact Chicago family dentist Dr. Bagai.