Healthy kids: 3 ways to teach your child about dental hygiene

Teaching children to brush their teeth can be a challenge for some parents. As parents, caregivers, and educators, dental hygiene should be part of the education process as well as promoting eating well and exercise. How to properly take care of young teeth can be learned as early as 3 years of age. But it does not have to be a dreadful activity.

Make it fun with games, fun videos, crafts, songs, and, of course, great books to read. Discuss with your child beforehand about the topics of good dental care, brushing, and the reasons to take care of your teeth.

Although those baby teeth may fall at around 6 years of age, children should still take good care of their teeth and start to learn about proper dental hygiene. Even the American Dental Association promotes good dental health by designating February the month to raise awareness.

Parents and educators can educate children about National Children’s Dental Health and how to take care of their teeth with these simple ideas:

1. Start with simple terms:

Designating one day of the week to explain and show how brushing your teeth can be a fun way to take care of them is a great initiative. Parents can make it fun by shopping together for a toothbrush and toothpaste. With so many different characters and colors, there is one that is appealing.

Besides, the ADA has the seal of approval of more than 300 products. Look for this seal when selecting proper dental tools, which also includes mouthwash and chewing gum. Flossing and mouthwash for younger children should be considered with care with your dental professional.

Demonstrate how to put a small pea size amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush. And follow by actually brushing your teeth. Show the proper technique of brushing your back teeth and gums in circular, gentle motion. Then, we spit or use a cup to rinse our teeth.

The ADA recommends toothbrushes should be replaced every 3 months. Many packages now have toothbrushes with date indicators so you can keep track to when to change brushes.

Girl brushing her teeth

 2. Eat a balance diet: 

Cooking good healthy meals together not only promotes bonding between family members but also provides a great opportunity to discuss healthy choices. By eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and drinking water, this type of eating habit establishes good nutrition and healthy teeth.

Sometimes it is okay to have a cookie, birthday cake, or other treats, but these types of refined sugars should be kept at a minimum. The ADA even recommends brushing immediately after eating sugar rich foods. Although at times it may be impossible to brush immediately, it is best to limit its consumption to prevent tooth decay.

Cavities can be formed when bacteria in your mouth interacts with sugars from food, leaving behind acid that can cause cavities and eventually tooth decay. Drinking water can minimize the amount of sugars in the mouth but it does not eliminate the bacteria. But water should be a part of any healthy diet. Brushing is still the best solution.

3. Visit the family dentist:

Visits with the dentist should be scheduled regularly. It is always best to explain the reasons to visit a dentist: to clean teeth, make sure there are no cavities, teach about flossing and proper care, and good overall dental hygiene.

There are plenty of literature and books for children to explain the many different dental professions. A dental hygienist is the person that cleans the teeth. The dentist ensures that cavities or other dental issues are addressed. Orthodontics and dental specialists study teeth reconstructing like teeth braces or mouth guards.

Dental hygiene is an important part of any child’s education. But it does not have to be a boring and tedious experience. The ADA and other organizations provide plenty of information to help families and children to better care for their teeth. The ADA Español also has some wonderful literature, videos, and resources in Spanish.

Barbara Mascareno

Barbara is an educational writer, teacher, and instructional designer. She loves to write K-12 education content, teaching strategies, bilingual education approaches, and foreign language.

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