From the desk of Jennifer Fuentes, Dental Assistant Instructor:
Teaching our young children to develop good oral hygiene habits can be difficult, but not impossible. I myself have gone through such struggle with my 17-month-old, and I still struggle from time to time, but it has definitely gotten better. Good oral hygiene habits are crucial for children to obtain while young so they can enjoy a lifetime of good oral health. Such habits will help prevent caries and periodontal disease as they get older. Here is a list of the things I have done that have made our morning and night routine a whole lot better.
1. Young children love to imitate what we do so start by giving a good example. Most infants find it amusing when we brush our teeth and often want to participate as well, so take advantage of the opportunity at hand and give them a toothbrush so they can start practicing while you finish brushing and flossing your teeth.
2. Find a song or make up your own song that talks about brushing. You can take the toothbrush away from them at this point and start brushing their teeth while singing the song. My son knows that when I start singing the song it is my turn to brush his teeth.
3. Practice flossing their teeth even if their teeth are spaced apart. The point of trying to floss this early on is for them to develop the habit of knowing that flossing is also a part of the routine. A study done by the dentist association found that only 4 in 10 Americans floss every day making them more prone to periodontal disease and decay so teaching our children at a young age about the importance of flossing is crucial.
4. Habits became habits with the repetition of an action so make sure you stay persistent and follow your oral hygiene routine every day.
Teach your children good oral hygiene habits now, and you will reap the great results as they get older. Your children will develop these habits and their six-month checkup at the dentist will be a breeze. Don’t give up if you are just starting to implement a routine, it will become easier with time. Good luck!