From as young as infancy, children learn by example. They mimic what they see around them. Therefore, it is extremely important that parents provide a good example when it comes to teaching them good oral hygiene.
Be a Role Model
Parents who exhibit good oral hygiene habits themselves will be more likely to have children practice these same behaviors. If your child sees you brushing your teeth on a daily basis, you may soon find them in the bathroom brushing their own teeth right beside you.
As soon as a baby cuts his/her first tooth, parents should begin brushing. By the age of three, children should be brushing their own teeth with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste. Parents should supervise at this age and be sure to help the child if needed.
Check for Plaque Left Behind
As children get older, they want to become more and more independent. They may not be willing to have a parent help them with brushing. Using a plaque rinse, or even just a few drops of food coloring in water, can help alert the child to any plaque that they have missed.
Make it Fun
If your child doesn’t enjoy brushing and flushing, making it into a game may help. Whether you use a reward chart, let the child pick out his/her own toothbrush and toothpaste, or just see who does better with the rinse test, adding a little bit of fun to such a routine task can brighten up everyone’s spirits.
Talk to Your Child
It is hard for a child to always accept what a parent says just because the parent says it. Instead of just telling a child that he/she needs to brush his/her teeth, try explaining why this is important. Using some experiments to show them the effect of bad oral hygiene can also help. Place an egg in vinegar for a few days. Then have the child observe what happens to the egg shell, explaining that this is what happens to the enamel of our teeth when we don’t take care of them. Explain the process of how cavities rot our teeth by poking a hole in an apple and observing how it begins to rot and decay.
See a Dentist Regularly
A dentist can help monitor your child’s hygiene habits. If the dentist sees that something needs correctly, starting early can help a child learn the proper way to good dental hygiene before bad habits form.
Good oral hygiene is not something you want your child to take lightly. By learning good habits at an early age, your child will be on the right track as he/she gets older.
Writer and researcher, Peter Wendt, has called Austin, TX his home for many years. He recommends Austin Children’s Dentistry for parents looking for a family dentist in Austin.