Dental habits don’t come naturally to most kids… or even most adults! It takes time and patience, both for parents and children, to develop these habits. Fortunately, once these habits are established, they are the keys to long-term dental health. Here are some tips to help these habits form.
- Teach kids how to measure their own success. An important part of any healthy habit is the psychological reward of a job well done. In this case, the job can be measured any number of ways. Kids can see their success in the mirror. They can also feel their teeth with their tongues, noticing whether their teeth feel smooth. If kids can see or feel the real benefits of good dental hygiene, then they will be encouraged to keep up with the habit.
- Introduce flossing early. Many parents neglect this until their children are older. Yet, there is no bad time to add flossing to a brushing routine.
- Make no exceptions. Kids should brush at least twice, and floss at least once, every single day. Even a day’s lapse can lead to calculus buildup that only a dentist can remove.
- Make dental time family time. If everyone does it together, it feels less like an order. Also, it helps kids stay on track by making them accountable to you at the time of their nightly routines.
- Cut down on snacks. Snacks, especially those high in sugar or acid, between mealtimes is terrible for teeth. If you buy your child a cookie or candy, make part of the deal to get the cookie be an additional brushing after eating it. This will drastically cut down on bacterial growth on your child’s teeth. Set a good example by cutting down on the sugar, and brushing after each sugary treat.
These habits, if formed in childhood, can last for life. A healthy child will become a healthy adult.