February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Although we should do this year-round, February is dedicated to promoting positive oral health in children. Today, we’re going to take this opportunity to talk about some tricks to get children interested in brushing.
Children tend to suffer from tooth decay and cavities more than adults. Why is this? For one, children eat more sugary and processed foods, because most kids aren’t concerned about diet. Kids also have smaller teeth. So, it’s easy for acid from bacteria to erode the small, petite surface area of their teeth. Ultimately, they don’t have the same dental health habits and knowledge as us. Let’s face it – it’s hard to get your kids interested in their dental health. Most kids are concerned about more curious things, like coloring pictures of unicorns, building Lego forts, or becoming MineCraft bosses.
Why Do Baby Teeth Matter?
Unfortunately, most parents don’t think about the state of their children’s teeth and dental health. It just doesn’t seem paramount, because baby teeth fall out anyway. But the truth is that baby teeth do matter. In fact, dental decay during early childhood can influence your dental health and well-being as a child and adult.
Studies show that the earlier a child gets dental decay, the higher the risk that they’ll get decay late on in life. Not to mention, tooth decay can affect your child’s speech and hinder their ability to digest food. Not to mention, poor gum health in children sets the stage for poorly rooted teeth as an adult.
Get Your Kids Excited About Brushing
While dental decay is a process that doesn’t happen overnight, the best way to prevent decay is instilling healthy habits. One way to get kids stoked to brush their teeth and flossing is by explaining dental health in terms that they understand. There are a variety of fun activities you can do with your kids. Here are a few:
- Show them the nasty effects of cavities. Most parents tell their children to brush their teeth, so they won’t get cavities. Most kids don’t truly understand what cavities do, or why they’re trying to avoid them.One experiment you can do to show your children the harmful effects of cavities is by showing them an apple representation of their teeth, then poke a deep hole in it. Continue to check on the apple throughout the day and week, pointing out to your kid the brown and mushy spots around the hole of the apple. Make sure that you explain to your kid that the apple is like their teeth, and the hole in the apple is what happens when your tooth gets a cavity. Their interest will be peaked by the rotting apple, and your kid will want to brush to keep their teeth from looking like the apple.
- Teach your child to floss. It’s hard to get in the habit of flossing as an adult, starting young is the key to forming healthy habits. One way to get your kid interested in flossing is by buying special dinosaur flossers and showing your kid how to use them correctly. To show your child how flossing works, you can do an example activity on a larger scale object. Take a large Lego block and fill the creases in with play dough. Explain that the play dough is food that causes cavities. Next, take a large string to remove the play dough. Explain that if the play dough isn’t removed (food in their gums), then the germ bugs will eat away at their teeth like the apple.
- Get your kid a fun toothbrush and turn tooth brushing into a ritual. You probably already know that “monkey see, monkey do” is a real phenomenon with kids. One way to get your kid excited about brushing their teeth is turning it into a fun activity that you do with them. You can make sure that they’re brushing correctly, and it can be a special bonding activity. Oftentimes, children don’t brush their teeth long enough. Kids don’t have the same perception of time as adults. There are special electric toothbrushes that play music when they brush, ensuring they brush for the whole two minutes. Have fun with it. Invent a special tooth brushing dance for you and your kids to do every morning and night.
As you can see, there are a lot of ways you can be creative about getting your child interested in their oral health. A big aspect of oral health is making sure that you take your kids to the dentist for their routine checkups. Instilling positive feelings with your child and the dentist will benefit them later on in life.