Establishing a Routine
It’s easy to see how teaching good oral hygiene may be overlooked - most children don’t enjoy brushing their teeth, and no parent loves the battle of getting their kids to do it every morning and evening. In fact, two thirds of children across the UK regularly refuse to brush their teeth!
Remember the sooner you start to build the routine, and the more regular you are with it, the easier it will be. You want brushing to become second nature.
Lead by Example
The most important thing that a parent can do is model the behaviour that they want to see from their children. Children imitate the behaviour of their parents, so if you’re brushing your teeth in front of your children, they’ll often learn by watching you. This helps to lay the foundations of healthy tooth brushing habits.
Make brushing fun - don’t just set a 2-minute timer. Play their favourite song to make the experience an entertaining one. Have a 2-minute dance party to pass the time! You could also let them choose their favourite colour of toothbrush or favourite flavour of toothpaste, as long as they’re age appropriate and effective. If brushing is portrayed in an enjoyable way, it’ll help to add positive reinforcement to this good behaviour.
Positive reinforcement can be an effective way to encourage good habits. You can offer rewards; this will motivate your child to continue brushing their teeth regularly.
It’s important to start oral care at an early age. Establishing a routine at a young age is important for influencing a child’s emotional, cognitive, and social development. This is the same for brushing their teeth, learning good oral hygiene habits is important to establish long-term oral health.
Brushing twice a day as soon as your little one’s first milk tooth appears is the first step towards building good brushing habits. Brush their teeth twice a day - and stick to it. Make it a part of their daily routine, just like getting dressed. This will help your child to grow up remembering to brush their teeth without needing reminders.
Children will always want to know ‘why’? So, explain to them why brushing their teeth every day is important. Let them know how it can prevent bacteria from accumulating, and plaque from forming and causing cavities.
Daily life can get in the way of our routines, but if it gets disrupted then you should just start afresh the next day. The more regular you are with it, the easier it will become.
Getting children into the habit of brushing their teeth is important for their overall health and well-being. Leading by example and making brushing fun, along with some patience and consistency, can effectively encourage good hygiene habits.