When you ask your child what they care about the most, the answer probably isn’t healthy teeth. But kids’ cavity-free smiles are absolutely crucial in helping them develop healthy permanent teeth, getting them comfortable with the dentist, and forming positive self-images. Those factors make it more than worth it to spend some extra time getting your children engaged with their dental health. The process doesn’t have to be difficult – a few subtle tweaks to daily life will help prevent decay and preserve strong teeth.
Whether your kids love brushing or try every trick in the book to avoid it, there are ways to get them more excited about their oral health & home hygiene. We’ve put together some of the most helpful changes you can make below. If you ever have questions about your kids’ teeth, don’t hesitate to contact our office. We’re here to help your whole family get great grins that look & feel their very best.
Simple Ways to Get Kids Engaged with Oral Hygiene & Improve Health
Change Up the Grocery List
How healthy are your kids’ lunches? Sometimes it’s helpful to take a step back and take an objective look at the food in your pantry. It’s easy for occasional snacks to gain ground and become a consistently stocked item. But it’s processed foods and sugar-laden treats that get kids’ teeth in trouble.
Look at your weekly grocery list and consider areas where there might be room for food/beverage substitutes. Try to push milk or water instead of soda or juice, and fresh fruit or vegetables instead of chips or gummies. Talk to your kids about how sugar and starchy foods like chips lead to decay, talking through the process of plaque formation. They will likely push back against healthier options, but they will gradually get used to the new diet. Introduce alternatives to favorite unhealthy snacks one at a time, so that it’s not an abrupt switch that may induce your kids’ protests.
If you help your children develop tastes for healthy food, fresh produce, nuts, water rather than soda, and other health-oriented sources of nutrition, you’re assisting them in building lifelong attitudes. Childhood is an incredibly formative time for eating habits and approaches to food. Give your kids the tools they need to stay healthy for decades to come, even after they’re in charge of their own dietary choices. We have quite a few blog posts describing healthy eating options – check them out for ideas!
Try Out New Toothbrushes & Toothpaste
Today’s oral hygiene products offer an incredible range of options. Kids can find toothbrushes that feature their favorite cartoon or movie characters, toothpaste in kid-friendly flavors, and even floss that’s easy to use. Electric toothbrushes may help them get their teeth clean even if they brush too quickly or casually. If your children tend to balk at oral hygiene, trying something new could make a big difference.
Another way to adjust the oral hygiene routine is to try finding some music to guide their brushing time. Kids (and adults) should brush at least 2 minutes per session to get every surface of their teeth clean. Pick out some songs your kids love that have about a 2-minute length and put them on during brushing to keep them on track.
Brushing & flossing don’t have to be tedious, even for kids! Take your kids to the drugstore and allow them to pick out their favorite toothbrush or toothpaste. Chances are, it’s time to replace their toothbrushes anyway – they should be swapped out every 3 months or after a major illness.
Engage in Dental Health Activities at Home
Your kids love trying out new activities with you. This is a great way to impose some oral health wisdom and have fun all in one session. If your children love science experiments at school, they’ll get extra excited for some home versions. There are many different activities that illustrate the effects of sugar and acids on teeth – pick one that looks like a good fit for your family. Next weekend, try out the experiment with your kids and discuss the results.
This visual approach will help them understand what happens inside their mouths. They’ll better connect their actions with oral health consequences. If your kids have been balking at the removal of sweet treats, this will also help them understand the importance of healthy eating!
Make an Oral Hygiene Chart
Another visual that helps boost health is an oral hygiene chart. There are plenty online that you can print out and put up, or you can try designing one that fits your kids’ interests if you’re feeling creative. Oral hygiene charts list family members’ names alongside brushing and flossing boxes for morning and night, each day of the week. If your kids tend to skip hygiene, a chart will keep them on track. You can put parents’ names on the chart also to hold everyone accountable!
If you’d like, you can incorporate a monthly prize for the most consistent brusher/flosser. Kids pretending to brush just to get a check mark? Try group brushing & flossing – this is easiest at night because there’s not a scheduling crunch. Clean your teeth with your kids to show them that you’re also invested in healthy teeth. This is also an opportunity to make sure they’re brushing long enough and properly, and not skipping any hygiene steps. Your kids will see oral hygiene as more exciting because you’re involved!
Schedule Family Dental Exams
If your kids tend to get nervous about exams, schedule your own on the same day. Visiting the office as a family and having your teeth examined one after the other will make the process more comfortable for all involved. Afterwards, you can celebrate being cavity-free together!
Ready to schedule your next appointments? Reach out today!