Good oral hygiene is paramount, and it’s something you can begin teaching your children as soon as their first teeth appear. However, you cannot teach good oral hygiene in a single lesson; it is a vital life skill your children will work on as they grow.
It’s never too early to start teaching good oral hygiene habits. To achieve proper dental hygiene, your child must master brushing teeth, flossing, and choosing healthy foods and drinks.
Keep reading for fun ways to teach your kid the importance of good oral health. With guidance from you and a good dentist, you can ensure your child enjoys healthy teeth.
Activities to promote oral health
Here are ten ways to encourage children to practice good oral hygiene:
#1. Lead by example
If you want your children to take care of their teeth, you must take care of yours. Your child should regularly see you flossing and brushing optimally for the correct amount of time. Just as you want your child to see you cleaning up, taking care of your mental health, and helping others, you should make sure they see you care for your teeth and gums, too.
#2. Attend regular dental checkups
Dental checkups are essential for the health of your kid’s teeth. The dentist will not only spot (and sort) any potential problems, but will also provide an invaluable education for your child. Dental checkups will keep your child’s teeth as healthy as possible, and your dentist’s advice will ensure your child keeps his teeth in tip-top condition.
Prioritize dental care for your family and ensure everybody attends regular dentist visits with an amazing family-friendly dentist.
To help you find the best dentist available, look at What To Look Out For When Selecting The Child’s First Dentist.
Did you know your children should attend their first dental appointment before they turn one?
For more information, check out When Should I First Take My Baby To The Dentist?
#3. Clean their teeth properly
Until your child is about seven or eight years old, you should be brushing their teeth. Until they have the dexterity to tie their own shoelaces, they do not have the dexterity to get into all areas of their mouth well enough.
While your children are too young to take charge of their oral health, you must do it for them. Apply yourself properly to this task. Regular flossing, good brush technique, and brushing for a minimum of two minutes twice daily are essential. If you cut corners now, so will they in the future. If you lack confidence in this area, at your next appointment, ask your dentist to teach you a proper technique for brushing and flossing.
#4. Give them choices
Tooth care can be frustrating for young kids who want to be able to do everything for themselves. To get them on board, it might help to let your children make choices about their own dental health. For example, let your children pick out a new toothbrush or toothpaste. You could let them choose which side you brush first each time, too.
#5. Use songs as a timer
Egg timers can be pretty dull, but using a song to time each tooth brushing session is likely to get your kids involved. Use a favorite piece of music to keep them entertained while you brush their teeth. If you’re feeling creative, you could add some simple dance moves to your brushing technique.
#6. Make it fun
As Mary Poppins wisely said, ‘In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun’. To encourage strong-willed toddlers to let you clean their teeth, you might need to get inventive. You know your children best, so you’ll know what will work for them.
You could try playing pirates (even pirates have to clean their teeth) or princesses (surely a royal servant would be in charge of brushing the royal peggies). You could pretend to be their fave TV character when you brush their teeth or imagine you’re brushing them in space. Making it fun will encourage your children to co-operate.
#7. Read books about teeth
There are lots of fun children’s books that will help your children understand the importance of taking care of their teeth. Including these books in your kid’s library will help them learn how (and why) to take care of their teeth.
You could include books detailing the experience of going to the dentist, books that focus on how to clean your teeth, or even fun books about the tooth fairy. As you read the stories, occasionally pause to give your child the opportunity to ask questions.
#8. Educate your children about sugar
One day, your kids will be in charge of making their own choices about their teeth. The food we eat can affect our teeth. For example, diets high in fizzy drinks and sugary foods can cause tooth decay.
Speak to your children about the choices you make regarding their diet. There’s no need to ban sugar entirely, but try to be smart about food choices. For example, it’s better for their teeth if they eat sugar with a meal rather than consuming a sugary snack by itself in the middle of the afternoon.
#9. Work on their flossing technique
Being able to floss correctly will help protect your kid’s teeth. Take some Duplo, place playdough around the bumps, and challenge your child to floss them off. This fun activity is good for their dexterity and will help them understand how to floss effectively.
#10. Play dentists
Children learn through play. If you want to teach your child about teeth hygiene, make it into a game. Set up a comfortable area to use as a dental chair, grab a white lab coat, and take it in turns to play dentists. When you’re the dentist, you can impart wisdom your kids will most likely memorize for when it’s their turn to play dentist.
Teaching dental hygiene to preschoolers
Stories and songs are a great way to teach dental hygiene to preschoolers. Most preschoolers will learn oral care from their parents, so doing things right at home is essential. If you fancy an interactive lesson, look at the Dental Health Science Teeth Experiment – a fun way for young children to learn about this important subject.
Teaching dental hygiene to elementary schoolers
Ask your elementary school-aged children to design an informative poster promoting dental health. Give them plenty of resources to copy from so they can fill their poster with accurate information. Then, you could send the poster to school to display in the classroom or hang it up in your bathroom as a reminder for the whole family.