Thursday, August 28, 2014
Guest Post: Introducing the Fun in Oral Hygiene to Kids…and Parents by Amanda Kaestner
Dentists often urge parents to start engaging their child early in a good dental hygiene routine -- brushing and rinsing twice a day, flossing once a day. But as a parent, it’s never that easy and children often find it as a dull obligation, which can make creating and sticking to a routine difficult for mom. The trick is to make it fun so your child is enthusiastic about the task, and invested in doing it correctly. They can better understand the health benefits they gain from it later on when information like that begins to sound more appealing as a gained incentive, but for now, simply making the act of dental care fun should be the focus here.
Children like a predictable routine. Most parents keep their kids on a set routine from naps, snack times, story time, etc. So let’s apply this same strategy to their healthy habits. Egg timers can make this task more fun. Just set the timer for thirty seconds, and switch to the next area of the teeth each time it goes off.
Why not try a song to remind your child when it's time to brush, or to remember good technique? For the more creatively inclined mom, revise some of the lyrics to their favorite songs to appeal to brushing. Finally, Frozen’s lyrics can help you directly with a little revamp in “the dentist never bothered me anyway!”
Join in! Do your brushing at the same time your child does his. Brushing along with you makes him feel more grown up, and it's a good bonding experience. For a younger child, letting him help you by asking questions like, "Sweetie, I can't remember, do I brush the back teeth next? Why don't you show me how?" Ask to smile and check each other’s teeth when finished and engage in the routine cleaning session. These techniques can make him feel more grown up and responsible, as well as reinforce proper technique.
Make up a flossing chart to hang by your bathroom mirror. Each time your child flosses, let him put a sticker on the chart. Filling that chart can result in a reward, which gives your child a goal to work toward.
Flossing sticks are easier for little hands to handle, and come in lots of colors and designs. And they're just fun. Most family dentists will advise parents to opt for these flossing sticks because they’re safer on kids’ gums due to their shorter length and easier to handle because they’re situated on a stick rather than twirled around delicate fingers. You'll want to use two per session as the floss wears out quickly. And remind your child to use a new clean stick each time, to prevent bacteria growth and transfer.
Sing or play a song at a slow, even pace can set a beat to which he can time his flossing. If you've had success with storytelling, there's nothing saying Captain Toothbrush can't be joined by his sidekick, Floss Stick Boy!
Once a child can be trusted not to swallow mouthwash, this can be easily incorporated into your routine. Be sure you’re following your dentists’ recommendations in regards to the proper mouthwash to use and introduce the kid’s mouthwash in small amounts. To make things more fun, try a game. Who can make the craziest face? Who can make the loudest swishing sounds? Who can make up the best rinsing dance? There are no winners or losers in game like that; the prize is often just making Mom laugh.
Getting into a good dental hygiene routine when your kids are young is crucial to creating habits that will last them a lifetime. The trick is to make things fun. And you never can tell. You might find yourself looking forward to it, too!
About the Author:
Amanda (@AmandaJaylene) is a downtown resident of Phoenix’s tech scene. She’s an avid seeker of the latest technology and intrigued at the ways it continues to help improve lives in healthcare, maximize business relationships, and provide more efficiency in the home.