Set a Good Example!

Several years ago there was a commercial on TV depicting a child and his Dad. The cute little boy followed his father around and copied everything the man did. At the end, the Dad lit up a cigarette and the anti-smoking message played. I thought about this commercial after reading an article about things that get children excited about taking care of their teeth.

In a minute, I will share the things the article mentioned, but first let’s address the ONE THING that will get your child interested in oral health care. IT’S YOU! Research shows that habits developed early in life are the ones we are most likely to stick with. Once habits are ingrained, they are exceedingly difficult to change. So, show your children how to brush, floss and take care of their teeth and gums. But more importantly, set a good example. They do what you do! Let your kids see you brush and floss. Talk positively about dental visits. Make it a pleasant, exciting experience for them. Get them started on a path to good oral health as early as possible.

Now, here are a few things to help you get your child interested in brushing. First off, get a great tasting, visually stimulating toothpaste. Sparkly bubble gum tasting tooth paste flat out gets kids to brush. It also gets them to brush longer. If it has the ADA seal of approval on the tube, trust it. It has cavity fighting fluoride in the proper amount and even though it may taste incredibly sweet, it does not have sugar added to it.

Break down and buy your kids an interesting toothbrush. There are a lot of options. Start with a small headed brush. Their mouth is too small for the adult size. Add some fun characters or designs on the handle. Play to their interests. A tooth brush with a timer in it will encourage your child to brush for the recommended 2 minutes. We are all guilty of being in a hurry at times and short changing our brushing time. Mechanical toothbrushes are also a great investment. We recommend the child size Sonicare, but other rotary tooth brushes have been proven very effective in plaque removal and gum care.

Flossing is a habit we wish everyone had. Encourage your child to incorporate flossing in their daily routine. Younger children often don’t have the dexterity to floss effectively. Buy them some floss aides. These are little sections of floss on a plastic handle. These handles come in fun shapes and colors, so again, find something that will get them interested.

Fluoride works. Buy them a kids’ fluoride rinse and have them use it after brushing. These come in pretty colors and tasty flavors with fun characters on the bottle. It is best if they swish and spit, but don’t panic if they swallow some now and again. The fluoride levels are not dangerous.

Finally you need to evaluate the effectiveness of your child’s efforts. Buy disclosing tablets. Visual learning is what we respond to. Your children can chew up one of these cherry flavored tablets and visually see where they need to brush better. The vegetable dye sticks to plaque and turns an invisible enemy into something they can fight against.

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Let’s turn it into the month we start getting ourselves and our children interested in life-long oral health care habits.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Bruce