8 Creative Ways to Improve Your Family’s Oral Care Habits
How to Make Oral Care Fun for You and Your Kids
Every parent knows that a surefire trick to getting through mundane tasks with kids is to find a way to make it fun! This also applies to oral care and visits to the dentist.
Early dental care habits, like twice-daily brushing, visiting a dentist regularly, and eating smile-friendly foods, carry on throughout a child’s life. The sooner you start instilling healthy smile habits, the higher the chance your kids will continue prioritizing their oral health.
Here are 8 creative and fun ways to get your family excited about their oral care.
1. Replace old toothbrushes and toothpaste with something new.
Toothbrushes should be replaced every three to four months and after anyone has been ill. During your next shopping trip, let your kids pick out a fun new toothbrush and a new flavor of ADA-approved toothpaste.
A useful trick to get youngsters interested in brushing is to rotate between a few different toothbrushes or toothpastes. Providing multiple options often encourages even the most stubborn kid to get involved.
2. Create a small container garden of tasty smile-friendly foods.
If you have a backyard or a small balcony, your family can grow a few smile-friendly foods right at home. Using the container method of gardening, you can grow tomatoes, lettuces, beans, sweet peppers, and beets. You can even grow dwarf lettuces or fresh herbs indoors using flower pots or a small hydroponics kit.
Growing vegetables at home is a rewarding family bonding process, and it gives you a chance to teach your kids about the importance of eating healthy, fresh food.
3. Limit starchy or sweet foods to meal times rather than snacks.
Contrary to popular belief, including a sweet food item in the main meal can be less damaging to oral health than a quick sugary mid-day snack.
When a starchy or sweet food item is eaten as part of a main meal, less of the sugar or starch is left on the surface of the teeth. Saving the sweet treat as dessert right after dinner also reduces the time any sugar is left on tooth enamel since you’ll soon be brushing before bed.
4. Find a family-friendly dentist and start visiting by age one.
The right dentist can totally change the way you and your kids view appointments. Look for a family dentist who genuinely enjoys working with kids and schedule a Happy Visit so your kids can be introduced before a major appointment.
The Tooth Doc is a dental home for families with kids of all ages, right here in Omaha. We recommend parents maintain regular six-month checkups for the kids, starting by their first birthday at the latest. If your child is younger but already has a tooth, now is the perfect time for their first introduction to dental appointments.
5. Help youngsters with brushing and flossing until age seven or eight.
Kids all develop at different rates, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents continue to help their kids brush their teeth up until their seventh or eighth birthday. Even if your child is showing independence earlier than this, it’s recommended to supervise and do a final once-over of their teeth after they’re done brushing on their own.
If your child is fussy about wanting to do it themselves, allowing them to brush your teeth first can help.
6. Time two-minute brushings with a song or guided video.
Brushing for a full two minutes is really important for healthy teeth and cavity prevention. However, even adults can underestimate their brushing time unless they use a timer. Sand timers are fun, but if they no longer capture your child’s interest, try music instead!
Time their brushing sessions by playing two minutes of their favorite song. Parents can also find videos on YouTube (such as this one) specifically designed to guide kids through a full brushing session, including when to change their brush position and practice proper brushing techniques.
7. Normalize dental care or dentist visits with books or cartoons.
Dental care is important, but kids can often balk at an idea when they feel too much pressure. By normalizing the importance of dental care, you can introduce your kids to the idea of prioritizing their oral health without forcing it.
A great way of doing this is by providing your kids with age-appropriate books on dental care or visiting the dentist. You can read these together and encourage a conversation about teeth. You can also look for episodes of your kids’ favorite cartoon character visiting the dentist or learning about brushing their teeth. Sesame Street is one of our favorites.
8. Take turns playing dentist, especially before an upcoming visit.
Another way to add an element of fun to dental care and visiting the dentist is through roleplay. Take turns playing dentist at home, especially if your young child has an upcoming appointment. You can even find kid-friendly toy dental tools, dentist outfits, and even entire playsets designed for kids!
When playing with your kids, try to use phrases and do actions their dentist will, such as “open wide”, gently pressing around their teeth and gums with a gloved finger, or sitting still for an X-ray.
Due for a dental checkup and cleaning? Take a moment to book your family’s appointments today.
Has this post been a reminder that you or your kids are due for a routine checkup or deep cleaning? That’s great news!
You can schedule any dental care appointments for your family by calling our Omaha office or using one of these alternative options, like online scheduling or even via text!