We can agree that if we are to establish good habits in our children, this is best accomplished when they are young, right? This means good habits of any kind. When they are young, they ache to be just like their mommy and daddy and, maybe, an older sibling or two. In this stage, they cling to every chance that they can learn—especially if it comes from someone that they love and respect. That’s because they want to be just like them.
So this is the time to strike! Your children will readily adopt good dental habits if those habits are established early and reinforced regularly. How do you accomplish this? How do you make sure your children embrace the hygiene habits critical to maintaining healthy teeth and gums? The following are three powerful ways to ingrain, and then maintain good dental hygiene habits:
Make It a Big Deal
Make a BIG, BIG DEAL about those first baby teeth. Call Grandma right away to break the news. Send celebration cupcakes to daycare. Take the child with you to the dentist on your next routine visit and let them sit in the big chair. Just make sure that that dentist, like those at Williams Landing Dental Clinic, are experienced with working with children. You can also take a field trip to the drug store and let them pick out their first toothbrush; if they choose it, they own the concept. They will brush their teeth with an enthusiasm, and a consistency, that will surprise you. In the years to come they will learn why all this is important! For now, it’s enough to plant the seed: take care of your teeth and your teeth will take care of you!
Create a Routine
Make teeth brushing an absolute, no exceptions, no excuses—ever—routine. Twice a day, every day. Even on vacation. (And make sure that rule applies to you too, Mom and Dad! As we all know, at the end of the day our kids do what we do, not what we say to do). To help with this, keep a chart and allow your child to put a sticker on it every time that he or she brushes his teeth.
Perhaps it would be a good idea to have them brush their teeth while you are brushing yours. This could be a fun parent-child time. It allows your child to mirror what you are doing. Change it up and have fun by making silly faces while moving the brush around your mouth. This will allow them to see it as more of a fun thing to do than a chore. Plus, this can be a positive way of giving them attention. So make tooth brushing a happy part of the morning and nighttime routines by doing it together.
Make it fun, and make it a habit. Make caring for your teeth a happy family affair.