I’m a Dental Hygienist and These are the Tips I use to Motivate my Kids to Take Care of Their Oral Health

No one knows the benefits of establishing a good oral health routine from the beginning as much as a dental hygienist does. We spend countless hours coaching our clients on why good oral health matters. We offer appointments and services, different tools to try at home, and send so much encouragement to our long-time clients – who are terrific brushes, but not so great at cleaning between their teeth. When encouraging client to floss, particularly those who have gone 50, 60, even 70 years as a brusher only, I’m often reminded of the old adage “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  And although you can “teach an old dog new tricks”, it’s far easier to try and instill good habits while they’re young.

 

My advice to other parents was really tested once I had children of my own. Parents would often come in and ask for help getting their little one to brush. We would review their technique, explain the importance of avoiding a “rush brush” where they give a few quick scrubs and then they’re gone. We talk about brushing for two minutes, how to use their toothbrush, how much toothpaste to use, and how to use floss sticks. We’d encourage parents to help with young ones, suggest particular types and flavours of toothpaste and reinforce the importance of it all.

 

Now that’s all fine and dandy, but it doesn’t matter how much the child or parent knows if the parent just. Can’t. Get. Their. Child. To. Brush. Now that I’m in the thick of all this, I get it, I really get it. So here are a few tips and tricks I use to help motivate my kids on a path of good oral health.

 

Find easy-to-use tools to get the job done

No one, not even adults, will continue to do something if it’s difficult to do. Flossing is one of the most common, difficult, homecare techniques to do. Instead of fighting trying to jam some string into a tiny mouth with big adult hands, try using a floss stick. Floss sticks are terrific for parents to reach in and get access to clean between their child’s teeth. Floss sticks are also great for people with limited dexterity – such as children – and an even bigger lifesaver when your child won’t let you in their mouth and INSISTS on doing it themselves. They may not get everywhere, but allowing them the opportunity to floss on their own, (instead of struggling) is setting them up for developing good habits.

 

Make Brushing Fun

There are a few ways in which we can make brushing at home fun for kids. The first way is to let them choose their own toothbrush. If you need to simplify things a little, you can even simply offer 2 or 3 colour choices and pick one up the next time you’re out. Toothpaste is another easy way to make brushing fun. Children’s toothpaste is offered in more flavours than just the standard mint that adults usually grab. Perhaps the minty flavour may be a bit overwhelming or “spicy” to your little one. So pick up a watermelon or strawberry and see if that helps.

Lead by Example 

As with most learning that children do, if they see YOU brushing and flossing every morning and every night, they too, will be more inclined to do it.This can sometimes be tricky when they want to do their brushing by themselves, buy try negotiating with him or her by saying “okay, you brush first, and I’ll brush second.” This lets your child feel in control, but also allows you the opportunity to help get those teeth squeaky clean.

Use some Tech

For those, not so little ones, tech has been a great motivator around my house. There are a bunch of fun apps you can download that encourage children to brush. One thing I particularly like about using an app is that it helps pass the time so that children are less likely to do a “rush brush.” Some apps that we use and love are: Disney Magic Timer by Oral B, Phillips Sonicare For Kids, and the all time fav around here: Pokemon Smile.

 

Hopefully you find some useful, practical tips to try out at home with your kids. Remember, the goal is to build healthy habits. You can work on and tweak their technique as they grow. Or just bring them in and we’d love to review how to brush. Afterall, that’s our specialty! You can book an appointment online, here: https://toothgoals.clinicsense.com/book/

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