One of the greatest difficulties, and responsibilities, faced by any parent is the need to develop healthy habits in their children. From setting emotional boundaries to properly caring for their teeth, these practices can affect the health and happiness of your child for a lifetime. In all cases, your best results will result from laying down solid foundations with an early start. Establishing solid oral hygiene practices means getting them used to the habit as early as possible. You can also set a good precedent by including twice-yearly dental visits for your children, even before their teeth come in. We have other helpful tips for parents starting on the oral health journey below.
Engaging Your Children In Their Oral Health
Even if you do manage to get an early start on instilling habits like these, it can still be a challenge. Some children will take to caring for their teeth like the proverbial fish to water. Others may put up a fight. In both cases, the only thing you can do is engage them with information and encourage them to develop these habits. We’ve provided answers to the most frequently voiced concerns of parents regarding oral health:
- When should I introduce oral hygiene to my child?
- What should my focus be when presenting information about oral hygiene?
- How can I help my child retain this information?
The answer to the first one is surprising to many parents. You should introduce oral hygiene almost immediately. This can include cleaning your child’s gums with a soft, warm washcloth after feeding and using a tiny drop of toothpaste to clean them. As they get older, you can introduce a toothbrush and floss and talk to them about the process as you brush their teeth. It’s also important to know there’s no such thing as scheduling a visit to the dentist too early. There are some oral health complications that your dentist will be able to identify even before their teeth erupt. Early dental visits also mean they’ll be normalized in your child’s mind, easing dental anxiety.
There is no point should you actively withhold information about oral health from your child. There’s nothing about caring for their gums and teeth that’s inappropriate for them to learn. What is important is that you provide information on your child’s level of interest and comprehension. This can best be achieved by letting them lead the way with their questions and then answering simply at first. The naturally inquisitive nature of children will ensure they continue to ask questions if they’re ready to learn the answers.
A Basic Oral Health Primer
The initial thing your child needs to know is that not properly caring for their primary (baby) teeth can lead to complications with their permanent teeth. They should know that they only get one set of adult teeth, and caring for them properly is essential to helping them last. Caring for their primary teeth can help ensure a straight, healthy, and beautiful smile as an adult. Some children respond well to visual answers, so don’t hesitate to find images on the internet if they ask.