February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Oral hygiene is very important to me, and something I want my kids to make a priority. But, I know my kids aren’t always excited about brushing their teeth, or going to the dentist. These are some things I am doing to try and make it fun, so my kids will be excited about it!
Introduce Oral Hygiene Early
For tiny babies, all you need to do is wipe down their gums with a wet washcloth. But once those first teeth come through, it’s time to start brushing. At our house, we actually start offering a tooth brush, around the same time our babies start teething. A tooth brush massages the gums, and can help soothe soreness. An added bonus, is that once teeth do breakthrough, they are excited to brush teeth and they associate tooth brushes with a good thing. Do make sure that whatever toothbrush your baby is using, it comes with safety stops to prevent any accidents. Cora just moved up from her trainer from MAM, and she still loves to chew on it as she continues teething.
The ADA also recommends you take your baby to the dentist once their first tooth breaks through, or no later than their first birthday. We try to take our kids with us to our dental visits. This way they can see that it’s something we are not afraid of and they can become comfortable with the setting and Dr.
Practice Brushing Correctly
The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice a day (typically morning and bedtime) and for 2 minutes. You can help your kids by showing them how to brush and get all their teeth, practice brushing on a favorite toy or stuffed animal, or even on the surface of an egg. If your kiddos are struggling getting all surfaces, you can get dye tablets or use food dye in water to coat their teeth and work to remove the color. My son is at the age, where he learns by doing, so an activity like that really helps him.
Use Kid Friendly Products
We make sure our kids pick a toothbrush they really love, because that makes them want to use it. We have also found that our kids are really turned off by mint flavored tooth pastes. My 4 year old calls it “burny toothpate”. So we choose more mild or fruity flavor. We try and replace our toothbrushes every 6 months, at the same time as we get our teeth cleaned. And I like to use a toothpaste that is free of any added sugars or dyes. We all love the Happy brand, and use both the kids and adult version.
Make it a Party!
We are huge music lovers at our house. We have music on while getting ready, cleaning up, or just to pick up. I find myself making up silly songs to get my kids to do things all the time. Brushing teeth is no different. Two minutes is a long time to brush, especially for little ones. I have seen tooth brushes that light up, have countdown times, or beep when it is time to switch to a different part of the mouth or to signal times up. But our favorite timing method is a song. When I was growing up, my dentist told me to hum “Happy Birthday” once for bottom teeth and once for top. But that song really isn’t enough fun for little ones. You could use whatever two minute song you like, but we love this one from Elmo
Offer a Reward
Brushing teeth is something that every has to do, and sometimes it is going to be a battle we have to pick as parents. But anytime you can use positive reinforcement, I think that helps. Adding “Brushing Teeth” to a daily tasks chart or giving a special reward for brushing teeth without complaints all week, never hurts! We were recently introduced to ZolliPops, and they have become the perfect treat for us. They are lollipops, that are actually good for your teeth, a win-win! And they were created by a kidprenuer, which I think is pretty cool.
Because they are focusing on children’s dental health the month, the American Dental Association has some really fun coloring sheets and a brushing calendar on their website. We printed out the calendar for both our kids, and they are really excited to check off each day.
What are some things you do, to encourage good oral hygiene?