At Ardelean Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, we care about the oral health of everyone in your family. But we understand that taking good care of your teeth and going to the dentist for regular checkups isn’t everyone’s favorite thing to do.
This is especially true for the littles in your household. With millions of adults suffering from dental anxiety, it’s probably safe to assume that the children will follow suit. If mom or dad is afraid of the dentist, then it must be a terrifying place, right?
The same can be assumed for oral hygiene habits at home. If parents don’t make home dental care a priority, then kids will grow up thinking it’s not that big a deal if they don’t floss everyday, for example.
But recent studies connecting oral health and overall health is too compelling to ignore. It’s so important to do all we can to instill good oral care habits in children early. It will help them create a lifelong commitment to their own health.
So what’s the best way to instill those good habits? That’s what Dr. Ardelean and our team want to help you with today! We’re sharing our best tips for making a daily oral hygiene routine more fun for your kids.
A Clean Mouth Everyday: The Struggle Is Real!
You’re probably well aware that the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends you brush your teeth with a soft bristle toothbrush twice a day for about two minutes, and you should floss your teeth once everyday.
Most of us easily incorporate that into our routines every morning when you wake and every night before you go to bed. No real challenge there, right? Tell that to a parent!
Children are a lot smarter than we sometimes give them credit for. It doesn’t take long for them to pick up on certain red flags of unpleasantries. They may not mind brushing their teeth at first, but once they realize that bedtime immediately follows the oral hygiene ritual, they will fight it….tooth and nail. (You’re welcome for the pun!)
It helps to avoid this negative association kids have with an oral care routine and sleep by making toothbrushing something fun the family can do together. So here’s tip number one.
As your child reaches adolescence, mom and dad lose all credibility on coolness. He or she will trade quality time with you in for a younger, hipper crowd. But when they’re little, you are their social life. Even more, you’re the center of the universe as far as they’re concerned.
The fact is that your child will want to do everything you do. If they understand that brushing their teeth, whether in the morning or at night, is just another opportunity to have all of your attention, they’ll jump at the chance.
So take advantage of that time together. You can bond with them. Sit them on the bathroom countertop and face them. Let them see how much you’re enjoying spending time with them. We can guarantee you one thing, they won’t be thinking about having to go to bed or having to go to school. Instead, they’ll be fixated on the person right in front of them and will feel on top of the world that they have you all to themselves.
One of the easiest ways to inspire motivation in a child is to make them feel like they are in charge of something. That sense of responsibility is something they take very seriously. They’ll feel proud of themselves and also excited at the thought of the praise they know they’re going to receive for it.
First, you could let them pick out their own oral care supplies. Talk it up before you go to the store. Let them know what a big deal it is to have a good toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss. Assure them that you are confident in their ability to make the right choices.
When your child has a say in this part of the process, they’ll be much more excited about the ritual of it all. Every time they reach for their toothbrush, they’ll remember how good it felt to pick the one they wanted.
It also helps to let them be the boss every now and then, or at least to make them feel like they’re the boss. Once you’ve had a chance to show them the proper brushing and flossing techniques, let them pretend to the be the dentist and have them show you how to do it.
3. Give Them A Goal!
When they’re little, they don’t understand why good oral hygiene is important to their overall health. But what kids do understand are incentives and rewards!
So try to encourage them by offering a reachable goal, a start and end date, and a reward plan for meeting that goal. You could create a family chart together for daily age-appropriate “chores.” Each time they complete a task, they get to place a gold star or a superhero sticker next to the task.
After they’ve collected a certain number of stickers next to their name, it’s reward time! It’s helpful to also make the planning of the reward system a family affair, too. If their tasks, responsibilities, rewards, consequences, and timeline aren’t clear to them, it won’t be a very effective strategy. Sit down and discuss ideas with them.
And perhaps this goes without saying, but we feel a certain obligation to encourage you to opt for rewards that don’t involve sugary foods, drinks, or treats. These shouldn’t be totally off limits, but remember that moderation is key to maintaining a clean, healthy mouth!
Help Us Help YOU!
When it comes to finally scheduling that first visit with Dr. Ardelean, it’s really helpful to talk up the appointment with them a couple of weeks ahead. You can tell them how nice everyone in our office is going to be and how fun it will be to meet all of us. We know we’re sure looking forward to it!
We go out of our way to make our patients feel happy, safe, and comfortable in our office, especially our tiniest patients. When we can help create a positive experience at the dentist office in their early years, we’re helping them reduce the chances of developing dental anxiety well into adulthood. Being afraid of the dentist can be a huge roadblock to good oral and overall health. That’s why you can trust that we will do all we can to help your child make positive associations with visiting us!
Is it time to schedule that first appointment at Ardelean Family & Cosmetic Dentistry? Call our office now at 586-465-4505 to schedule your child’s first dental checkup. You can use our online form to schedule your appointment as well. We’re excited to meet your family!