How to encourage healthy dental habits in children?

You know what parents are collectively doing wrong?

Not encouraging their children to get healthy dental habits in their daily regime. By ‘encouraging’ I do not mean ‘supervising’ or ‘leading them’ to a situation where they unwillingly have to sweep toothbrush on their teeth for 5 minutes. The kind of food kids eat nowadays can totally destroy their dental cavity even before it is fully developed. Parents need to understand that dental hygiene is more than a daily routine; and pass on the information to their kids.

Now the question arises, how to encourage healthy dental habits in children so that they can enjoy those 2 minutes of brushing. As we are celebrating this month as National Children’s Dental Care Awareness month, here are some tips to make your kids love brushing as an activity-

1. Make brushing 2 minutes of fun -You cannot engage children in anything that seems boring to them. In general, kids are sleepy during the brushing period and this adds to the boredom of the same. You can play some brushing tunes, which I am sure you will also love! Secondly, make brushing a group activity, either with fellow kids or with other family members. This will help you all to bond better along with healthy teeth. Also, you can ditch those boring timers with toothbrushes that have an inbuilt timer in them.

2. Reward them with appreciation- First and foremost, understand the difference between ‘reward’ and ‘bribe’. You ought not to bribe them by saying, “Brush your teeth and I will give you a toy, or chocolate.” Rather, motivate them with some stars or points on a chart. Make sure to appreciate every proper brushing session with a ‘well done’ or ‘that’s like my champ’. If you have two or more kids, plan it as a healthy competition between both of them, or you can also be a part of ‘Who has healthiest teeth’ competition.

3. No more dentist-phobia- Take them to a dental clinic from an early age, so that they do not bite their teeth when it comes to a dental checkup. This includes a visit to the dentist every 45 days and educating them about the importance of dental hygiene. If your child is quite young for this, make sure they have this experience at least once they hit two years of age. This way they can become familiar with the environment and get to know your dentist and build up trust – and your dentist can help to prevent decay and identify any health problems at an early stage.You can ask your dentist to show some pictures of the bad tooth to them, but make sure they do not get terrified of it. In some cases, children just stop eating sugar thinking it will rot their teeth in a day.

4. Cook a story- It is a psychological fact that children love stories and they relate a lot of their characters. They are somehow role models for children, sometimes even to adults. Now all you have to do is get creative with your ideas and find time to tell them stories where your child can be an assistance of that superhero who fights with a cavity monster and saves the world from bad breath. You can add up to the idea that your child is on the secret mission to make everyone brush their teeth twice a day. This way, you can ask them to tell their friends about the importance of dental hygiene.

5. Go shopping for right essentials- Same old toothbrush can be unhygienic and boring at the same time. Make sure you change the toothbrush every 2-3 months. Now, when you have realized that your kid’s toothbrush is getting old, it is time to go for toothbrush shopping. You should always consider children's choice of toothbrush and toothpaste. They may like a particular flavor or character toothbrush. Provide them the essentials and watch them getting excited by the idea of brushing their teeth.

These were the few tips to encourage healthy dental habits in children. You can always add or remove from the list as per the age and interest of your child. If you try them, please get back to us telling what worked for you. Keep smiling with the healthiest smiles!