4 Steps to a Better Smile: Improving Your Child’s Oral Health

Let’s be honest: kids would rather do chores than brush and floss their teeth at least twice a day. Luckily, your child will lean on you for guidance in establishing strong oral health habits that will last a lifetime.

We’ve put together 4 tips to help your child to better dental health and a beautiful smile.

Here are four easy ways to encourage your kids to “rock their smile” and improve their oral health:

Make it fun – Most pediatric dentists recommend brushing for at least two minutes. But for kids, two minutes can feel like an eternity. To get your child to brush and floss properly, try making a game out it. Set a timer for two minutes and challenge your child to brush until the timer goes off. Some children’s toothbrushes also have lights that flash or music that plays which serves as a built-in timer. Set the timer again for two minutes for flossing and mouth rinse, if your child uses it.
Explain “why” – It’s important to explain to kids WHY brushing and flossing is so important. If they are simply told to do it, it becomes a chore and they will most likely resist. If they realize it’s a benefit to them, they may be more apt to take the challenge on themselves. Be sure to explain the importance of brushing and flossing in simple terms kids can understand. For example: “Flossing is important because it removes small pieces of food from between your teeth. Do you want gross pieces of food stuck in between your teeth?” At your child’s next checkup, ask your pediatric dentist to demonstrate proper brushing and flossing techniques.
Regulate sweets – It’s no secret that kids love candy and sweets. But it’s important for kids to know that eating too many sweets causes cavities or “sugar bugs”, as your pediatric dentist may call them. Try to keep sugary snacks limited to later in the day to ensure you child brushes away the sugar with his or her evening brushing and flossing regimen.
Create incentives – Set a goal with your child to get a “perfect score” the next time he or she has a dental checkup. This, of course, means your pediatric dentist finds no cavities! Establish a reward your child will earn for having a perfect checkup, such as that new video game they’ve been wanting. Be sure to explain that brushing, flossing, and limiting sweets are all ways to reach their goal. Tape a photo of the reward to the bathroom mirror for daily encouragement. Tell your pediatric dentist about the reward system so he or she can also encourage your child at each checkup. Remember to schedule your child’s dental checkups every six months.

Be sure to ask your pediatric dentist for more tips and tricks for getting kids to care about their teeth.

Finally, show your children this fun video from My Kid’s Dentist that explains how to properly brush and floss in a way they can understand!

You can find a pediatric dentist near you at SmileGeneration.com, as well as through the pediatric specialists at MyKidsDentistOnline.com and EveryKidsDentist.com (in Arizona).

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