Kids will be kids, it’s true. They love their sweets, they don’t like to listen and sometimes getting them to brush their teeth – or even visit the dentist! – can be a chore. How do you encourage your children to be proactive about their oral health? It’s easier than it seems!
Make It Fun!
The easiest way to get a child to do anything is to make it fun.
Kids love to play – that’s obvious. If you’ve ever watched your own children (you do, obviously) you can definitely see that. They make everything into a game, no matter how simple or silly.
You can do the same thing.
Get your child a colorful toothbrush or let them pick their own. Involve them in the process of picking a toothbrush – most children’s toothbrushes are soft bristled, as they should be, and they come in many colors and with many different themes. There’s a good chance that your child will be able to find a toothbrush that’s modeled after their favorite cartoon character, and although these can be a tad pricey, your child’s oral health is a great investment.
How do you make actually brushing one’s teeth fun? Do you remember what I mentioned above?
That’s right! Make it a game!
I’ll leave just how up to you, but if you can involve the Hokey Pokey somehow, I’m sure you’ll be ahead of the pack.
Cutting down on sugary snacks is a really good step toward good oral health. How can you get your kids to start enjoying healthier snacks over processed, sugary junk?
- provide low-fat dips for veggie sticks or veggies cut into fun shapes
- whole-grain flat bread crackers served with low-fat cheeses: cut the cheeses into animal or other fun shapes
- freeze grapes, cherries and berries for a quick and cool summer day snack
- start eating the healthier snacks yourself, too! Young children especially will try to imitate their parents.
- check the sugar content of items you purchase and be especially aware of items with high fructose corn syrup in them.
The Dentist’s Office
A lot of dental offices give kids the opportunity to pick a toy or other prize after their appointment is over. Gear your kids up for visiting the dentist by encouraging them to practice good oral hygiene every day so they can then show their dentist what a good job they’re doing! Take their favorite book or toy to the appointment with you to help keep the visit a positive experience.
Activities and Resources for Parents
The American Dental Association has some resources available for educators which can also be adapted to parental use, take a look at them here. Presentations to help kids understand how important their smile is, activities that can be done at home (or in the classroom) and some kids’ games and animations are all at your fingertips to help you teach your children about having a healthy mouth.
The ADA also has a section for kids on their site. Check it out with your child!