Oh, the struggle is real! Getting kids to care for their teeth sometimes feels like an impossible battle.
Even as a Dental Professional I understand first-hand, the struggle that is trying to get your children to clean their teeth twice a day. There are evenings where we all want to give up on the night time routine.
Instead, here are some helpful hacks to get those little ones in the bathroom and brushing!
Tip 1 – Start early
As soon as your child’s first tooth erupts start brushing with a baby toothbrush and water, create a healthy habit. By starting straight away, not only do you reduce their risk of decay but you also start de-sensitising them to the feeling and functions of a toothbrush. With this routine, your child will quickly realise this is part of their day and you are setting them up for better long term oral health outcomes.
Tip 2 – Let them have independence
Whilst children don’t usually have the manual dexterity to brush their teeth by themselves until around 8 years of age, it’s important to let them have a go. Let them brush first, and then you re-brush to remove any missed plaque.
Tip 3 – Make it a family event
Children always want to mimic their older siblings or parents. By everyone brushing their teeth at the same time it creates healthy family habits and solid routines, whilst also showing the younger ones it is something that everyone needs to do!
Tip 4 – Music or a timer
Whilst some children are keen to brush their teeth, they usually think that 15 seconds is long enough. Research shows that a minimum of two minutes is needed for proper brushing. Egg timers are a fun way to show just how long you need. In our house, we play our current favourite song on my phone in the bathroom, and brush for the duration of the song together – we may or may not bust a move at the same time…
Tip 5 – Plaque disclosing at home
On previous visits to your dentist you may have had the plaque disclosed on your teeth. This highlights any undetected build-up, and reveals problem areas. You can buy tablets to use at home for this very purpose, available at your family dental surgery or some chemists. Your child brushes their teeth first and then they chew the tablet up and rinse. Once they have rinsed, wherever there is colour there is plaque – I explain to my kids this is the germs they have missed. Plaque is very hard to see, so the tablets help kids learn where the plaque is and once it is visualised, it is easier for them to understand why they need to brush. I also plaque disclose with my kids as a competition, whoever has the least plaque wins!
Tip 6 – Books
There are many books available for young children about looking after their teeth, even touching on those first visits to the dental surgery. Have a read, it’s a really fun way to start conversations about oral health.
Tip 7 – Regular visits to the dental practice
By regularly attending a dental practice, your children will be screened for oral health problems and potential diseases, as well as receiving encouragement to keep on brushing! After the oral hygiene check, your dentist or dental hygienist will remove all the bacteria in your mouth with the ‘AIRFLOW Dental Spa’ using AIRFLOW technology. AIRFLOW is a combination of high-pressure air, fine powder and warm water that creates a spray to gently clean your teeth without physically touching them. Imagine a spa treatment but for your mouth!
To find your closest AIRFLOW Dental Spa dental practice visit: airflowdentalspa.com.au.
Your dental health professional will help reinforce the above messages for use at home, and as we already annoyingly know, our children often respond better to a third party rather than their parents.
How do you encourage your kids to care for their teeth? Tell us in the comments below.