From the day you learned that you were pregnant to the day your child was born, you began to undertake a huge responsibility to ensure that he or she grows into a bright and healthy individual. One of your most basic duties as a parent is to help them build good oral health habits because will benefit your child for the rest of his or her life.
Oral Care: Why You Should Start Young
A child's primary teeth, more popularly called the "baby teeth," show up between ages 6 and 10 months. In three years, your child should already have 20 baby teeth. After that, they will grow 12 more as an adult. Most first-time parents will ask when they should start teaching their children to brush their teeth. The question sometimes seems pointless because children don't develop teeth until they are several months old. However, experts highly recommend teaching them the value of oral hygiene as early as possible— even if they have yet to grow their first tooth, because it would engrave the habit in them from the beginning.
One of the best ways to do start teaching your child to brush is to regularly clean their gums using food-grade wipes or a soft piece of cloth wrapped around your index finger. You can do this after you give them a bath or any other time of the day. The important thing here is to do it regularly to help build the habit. Take note that experts don't recommend using toothpaste on babies as they still don't know how to spit. The point in doing this is to get them used to the habit of cleaning their mouth as early as possible.
If your your child is already old enough and refuses to brush, do not fret. We have gathered some tips you can use to encourage healthy habits and regular tooth brushing in your child.
1. Let Them Pick Out Their Own Dental Supplies
The flavor of your children's toothpaste is sometimes the reason why they refuse to brush their teeth. To ensure that they like the dental products they use, bring them with you when going shopping for these. Show them all the age-appropriate products they can choose from and buy the ones they want. This way, your child will feel more involved in the process and show greater motivation with oral hygiene.
2. Make Brushing Fun
Like any other task, children are more engaged in activities that are fun and exciting. One way you can make brushing fun is to incorporate singing of nursery rhymes or any kind of song that lasts two minutes. This way, you can follow the dentist-recommended length of brushing without leaving your child irritated.
3. Show Them the Proper Way to Brush
The best way to teach a child is by modeling. The same is true with oral hygiene. Make sure to show your child how to properly brush their teeth and the other parts of their mouths. It can also serve as a bonding time between mommies, daddies and their kids.
4. Reward Them for Doing A Good Job
Some children might need more motivation to brush their teeth regularly. Experienced parents recommend rewarding them after completing a week of regular brushing through sticker charts that end in surprise prizes. You can also try coming up with a story about a superhero who defeated cavities by regularly brushing his teeth.
5. Teach Them About Teeth-Friendly Food
Aside from proper toothbrushing, eating good food is also necessary to keep your children's teeth healthy. That said, be sure to encourage children to eat fruits and vegetables instead of processed and sweetened foods, like candies. The former will not only provide them with a healthy balance of nutrients. They will also help keep their teeth clear of cavity-causing sugar and other decay-inducing ingredients.
6. Introduce Them To a Friendly Dentist
One of the most common problems parents encounter with their children's dental care is the fear of meeting the dentist. Most parents do not know that they should already be having their child's dental check-up as soon as the first tooth appears, or after the first birthday. Look for a pediatric dentist in your neighborhood, and schedule a consultation even if your child doesn't have a tooth emergency, so they can become familiar with the clinic and the tools.
Written by Guest Author for The Healthy Moms Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.