encouraging healthy dental habits in children

Good habits start young. By caring for kids’ oral health at an early age, you can help instil habits that can last a lifetime.

Proper oral hygiene for children isn’t too different from adults’ oral hygiene – it involves brushing teeth at least twice a day, flossing daily, cutting down on sugary snacks and drinks and keeping up with regular dental check-ups. While many adults understand the importance of oral health, kids often need a little extra encouragement and incentive.

Here are a few tried-and-tested ideas to turn oral hygiene from a chore into something more fun.

Brush together

Young children usually can't brush and floss their teeth alone and need your help. But even as they get older and their coordination improves, they can still benefit from examples and guidance.

Kids are normally able to start brushing their teeth independently when they're able to tie their own shoelaces – around six years old. However, that doesn't mean they'll always do it properly, especially if they're not supervised.

Common problems are children failing to brush all parts of their mouths evenly or not brushing for the recommended two minutes. You can remind them about correct brushing techniques and lead by example by brushing your teeth together.

Go electric

When you're brushing your teeth properly, a manual toothbrush can clean just as well as an electric one. But many people find electric toothbrushes easier and more convenient to use – especially children.

Your child's dentist may recommend an electric brush if they have cavities or signs of decay. If your child finds the manual brushing action difficult or tiring, an electric toothbrush takes care of this for them. It just has to be guided around their mouth, using the speed setting they're comfortable with.

Electric toothbrushes have other unique benefits that can make them more appealing. Some types play music that can make them more fun to use, as well as timers to make sure they're brushing for two minutes.

Let them choose their own toothbrush

You should change your child's toothbrush (or electric toothbrush head) every three months, or after an illness. Rather than picking out their toothbrush for them, why not take them toothbrush shopping with you?

By getting involved in picking out their own brush, children can be more invested in their oral hygiene. They'll also choose a toothbrush they find more appealing - whether it's colourful, designed like their favourite character or plays sounds and music they enjoy, having a brush they actually like may encourage them to use it more often.

And toothbrushes aren’t the only thing where they can have a choice: children's toothpaste and floss are also available in a wide variety of flavours that appeal to different tastes. Just make sure the toothpaste is fluoridated to help strengthen and protect their teeth.

Keep up with their dental visits

Ok, we know that going to the dentist might not generate as much excitement as going to the beach. But it can still be a pleasant experience when you choose a child-friendly dentist and start dental visits from a young age – ideally as soon as their first teeth start to come through.

If your child is very young or is feeling anxious about visiting the dentist, be extra careful not to give them mixed signals. This includes little things like talking in front of them about how much you dislike going to the dentist yourself, or framing a dental visit as any sort of punishment. Kids pick up on subtle cues from parents, so just be cautious that you’re not accidentally hinting at any reason to be afraid of the dentist.

If your child has positive associations with the dentist, they may be more likely to keep up with their scheduled appointments all through their lives. By encouraging good oral hygiene habits at home, you can also reduce the likelihood of them needing corrective treatments like fillings or extractions.

Looking for a children's dentist in Brisbane CBD?

Face Value Dental is a family-focused dental clinic in Brisbane CBD. We've designed our clinic to be as relaxing as possible, and our team has experience working with children of all ages.

To book an appointment, call our friendly team today on (07) 3221 0677 or contact us online.