Children rely on their parents to teach them many things. Learning to ride a bicycle, speaking politely to others by using words like please and thank you, and picking up after done playing are all examples of the sorts of things parents and caregivers impart on the young minds under their care. Along with character development and basic rights of passage, however, are important hygiene lessons like how to properly brush teeth and maintain oral health. Teaching children how to properly care for their teeth is an essential role that sets the children up for later development of permanent teeth.
Information found on colgateprofessional.com states that parents should begin brushing their child’s teeth as soon as one pops through the gums and continue brushing for their child through age two. Once the child turns three, he or she should begin brushing their own teeth. Parents, however, should go behind the three-year-old to get the hard to reach spots and continue this routine until the child reaches the age of six.
It is also important to remember that the example you lead often speaks louder than the words that you say. It isn’t enough to only tell children to brush their teeth. It is equally or more important to show them that their parent also brushes and flosses their own teeth twice a day. Children learn by example, and if they are shown the importance of oral care by watching their parents and told the importance of oral care by being instructed to do it themselves, the chances of them starting and maintaining a healthy smile greatly increase.
Other ways to make sure that good oral hygiene is implemented early on is to make brushing fun. Rather than a chore, make brushing teeth a fun activity by letting a child choose a fun toothbrush or having a sticker chart in the bathroom. Every time the child brushes his or her teeth, give them a sticker. Once the chart is full, it’s time for a new toothbrush. If made to be a fun activity, it won’t be a dreaded part of the day but rather something enjoyable that they look forward to doing.
Daily tooth brushing and routine dentist visits are part of an overall healthy lifestyle that should be promoted beginning at a young age. Tooth and gum issues can cause pain, swelling, bleeding, and bad breath to name a few side effects, so it’s important to encourage proper oral hygiene techniques early on.