Motivating Young Children to Take Care of their Teeth and Gums
Around 23 percent of children aged two to five have cavities in their primary teeth, and about 10 percent of children as a whole have untreated dental cavities. Oral care should begin as early as possible since a child’s overall health can be compromised even when cavities are in baby teeth. Bacteria can spread, attacking other teeth, and cavities can quickly grow so large they lead to tooth loss or painful abscesses. Gum disease, too, can affect children when plaque is allowed to build up along the gum line. Plaque must be removed regularly via professional cleaning, brushing, and flossing. If you have children under five, how can you motivate them to stick to a routine so they can achieve good oral health?
Building a Bond with their Dental Professional
Dental professionals recommend that children should visit them by the time the child’s first tooth appears or when the child is one year old (whichever occurs first). Their dentist will check their general oral hygiene, clean any teeth with plaque or stains, and show them the right brushing technique. Your child should then routinely visit their dentist at least twice a year. To make these visits more inspiring for children, choose a dentist that other parents recommend. Aspects such as the comfort and design of dental offices can make a big difference when it comes to motivation. Offices that are colorful and have child-friendly design features, reading material for kids, toys, and healthy snacks are likely to provide an entertaining experience for kids. Online reviews are also very helpful when it comes to assessing the excellence of dental practices in your area. Finally, you can ask your own dentist to recommend a good pediatric dentist for your little ones.
Starting Early with Orthodontics
From the time your child is a toddler (around two), their teeth and jaw can already give dentists key information regarding whether they are likely to have oral problems in adulthood. In fact, your child can visit a dentist around this time to determine if they have an overbite or underbite. The earlier any issues are identified, the fewer orthodontic treatments will be necessary once your child is older. For instance, by age eight, a child may be able to fix their issues with a removable orthodontic appliance (or plate), thus eliminating the need for braces in the future. If you discover your child will need extensive orthodontic treatment, you can strategize your response—for instance, by saving ahead or by deciding to take out health insurance.
Making Brushing and Flossing Fun
The right brushing technique is an important pillar of tooth and gum health. Children should be taught to hold their brush at the right angle and address each tooth from all sides while brushing gently along their gum line. To make brushing one of the most amusing parts of your child’s day, invest in a smart toothbrush such as the Colgate Hum Kids Battery Powered Toothbrush, the Evowera Smart Manual Toothbrush for Kids, or the Blu Smart Bluetooth Enable Kids Toothbrush. Smart toothbrushes usually come with dedicated apps kids can watch on their smartphone or tablet. In these apps, colorful characters serve as funny filters or teach your child how long to spend on each tooth. The AR-powered Colgate Hum, for instance, invites kids to capture “monsters” (bacteria) in their mouths. It also tracks their progress and provides information regarding any missed areas. The Evowera bush, meanwhile, vibrates when it touches uncleaned areas and has a pressure feature that allows children to be gentle on their gums. Like the Hum, it gives parents reports that let them know if their children are using the correct brushing techniques. Finally, the Bitvae smart toothbrush is USB rechargeable, meaning it has excellent battery life.
Teaching Children How to Floss
Flossing may not be the most entertaining component of an oral health routine, but did you know that it should actually begin as soon as your child has two teeth that touch? This often occurs when a child is between two and three years of age. To make this activity fun for your children, create a mouth using an empty, white (or painted white) egg carton to create two rows of ‘teeth.’ Place a bit of Playdough between the teeth. Take a string and practice “flossing” the teeth with your child. Show them how to floss both sides of each tooth and to drag the thread along the gum line gently, as well as the tooth surface, until they remove the plaque (the Playdough) and their play teeth are white and dirt-free. You can also make the process more motivational by allowing your child to choose their own floss. These days, floss for kids comes in many flavors, colors, and packagings. Some contain popular kids’ superheroes and icons, so go online with your child to find the perfect floss for their tastes. One popular video by YouTube channel Mike Likes Science, features an upbeat song that shows children how to thoroughly floss their teeth and target the area beneath the gum line.
Providing Children with Healthy Snacks
Prevention is better than cure. When your kids are toddlers, provide them with a wide array of healthy, sugar-free snacks such as crudites and hummus, fruits, and nuts. Let them know that a diet that is high in refined sugars can cause decay, which can lead to cavities and tooth loss. Inform them that eating healthily is one of the most important ways to maintain a beautiful smile.
Maintaining good oral health begins just as soon as your child grows their first tooth. To build trust between your child and their dentist and/or orthodontist, start early, choosing highly recommended and experienced professionals. Teach your kids how to brush and floss every day, leaning on high-tech and smart toothbrushes to motivate them to look forward to keeping their teeth and gums clean and healthy.
Karoline spent six years working as a dental nurse before taking time out to start a family. She has since rediscovered her teenage love of writing, and enjoys contributing to a range of print and online publications on the topics that matter to her.