Every parent wants their child to have a beautiful smile and a bright future. Proper oral hygiene is a key component in that puzzle, as taking good care of your teeth directly correlates to confidence and putting your best foot forward.
If you’re looking to build positive brushing, flossing, and hygiene habits for the whole family, here are five tips from our Huntsville family dentists you can use to create great smiles for parents and kids alike!
Use a Timer
One of the biggest mistakes children and adults both make is not brushing for long enough. Dentists recommend you brush your teeth for two minutes twice daily.
Most people have heard about that two-minute number; they just don’t have a great internal clock or the externalized support they need for accountability. A simple kitchen timer can solve both those problems!
By leaving a kitchen timer in your bathroom, you encourage everybody in the family to focus on proper oral hygiene. With young children, the buzzing or ringing of the timer can be a cause for celebration, building positive habits and making everyone feel enthusiastic about caring for their teeth.
Don’t Use Baby Teeth as an Excuse for Poor Hygiene
Too often, parents don’t fight to protect their children’s baby teeth because they know they’re going to fall out anyway.
When you don’t care for a child’s baby teeth, you’re sending powerful explicit and implicit messages that tell them oral hygiene simply isn’t important. If they don’t practice proper dietary and hygiene habits for the first six to eight years of their lives, how are they suddenly going to become invested in that process when they get their adult teeth?
Furthermore, oral hygiene is a major indicator of cardiac health, even for young people. If plaque from your child’s teeth is entering their bloodstream via their gums, it’s already building up in their arteries.
Brush & Floss Together
If you’re trying to make sure your kids are brushing correctly while also modeling a great oral hygiene routine, our Huntsville family dentists recommend brushing and flossing together as a family as a great way to bond and build positive habits.
When you brush and floss your teeth as a family, you can see who needs some brushing pointers, who needs positive encouragement to make it all the way to two minutes, and who you can trust to transition into a more private oral hygiene ritual.
Even if schedules prevent you from brushing and flossing together as a family every day, you can build in time for family smile care on the weekends to make it part of your fun, positive family routine.
Be Brave & Positive About Dentistry
The best way to teach a child any positive behavior is to model it yourself. The number one reason kids become scared of the dentist, averse to flossing, etc. is because they see fear of dentistry in adults around them.
To build positive dental habits for the whole family, you as a parent need to face your own discomfort with the dentist and keep up your own regimen of appointments and at-home care.
When you can muster enthusiasm for taking care of your teeth (or can at least communicate how valuable and important it is, even if it’s a bitter pill to swallow), it will trickle down to your children and increase their engagement in their own oral health and hygiene.
Talk Frankly About the Consequences
Scaring children isn’t an effective strategy for compliance in the long-term, but our Huntsville family dentists would like to stress that it’s still extremely important to be frank with your children about the risks associated with poor dental hygiene and health.
Be sure everyone in the family fully understands what bad diet, tobacco use, and not brushing or flossing can do to their health and physical appearance. Remember, the goal isn’t to intimidate or frighten anybody but to make them appreciate the seriousness of the stakes.