With a whopping 60-90% of the world’s schoolchildren having dental cavities, according to the World Health Organization, it’s impossible to deny the continued importance of ensuring that your own little ones keep on top of their oral health.
However, it can also be tricky to ensure that your kids keep up with all of those ‘must dos’, and encouraging them to take the necessary care over their oral health can be one of the most difficult such tasks of all.
Here are five of our favourite ways to make good oral health happen with your kids.
1. Introduce some music
Choose a song that’s about two minutes long – the widely recommended teeth-brushing time – and play it when your children come to brush their own teeth. Encourage your kids to boogie while they brush, just as long as their teeth are still cleaned in the process.
2. Lead by example
If you always lecture your kids about flossing but they never see you do it yourself, how likely are they to do it themselves? Exactly. Children need to know that certain oral hygiene practices are important enough for you to adopt yourself – there’s just no better way to hammer home the message.
3. Make a game out of it
What child doesn’t love to play games? There’s even more scope for fun if they have a similarly-aged brother or sister to ‘compete’ with! Even if they are an only child, you can brush your teeth at the same time as them, challenging them to continue brushing for as long as you, right up to the two-minute mark – including all around their mouth.
4. Reward them when they do well
When your child does practice good oral hygiene, you really ought to suitably reward them – and there are many ways of doing that. Obviously, giving them a sugary treat would rather miss the point, but something like a stuffed teddy bear or a sticker featuring their favourite TV character could be suitable.
Whatever the specific ‘good behaviour’ – perhaps brushing their teeth unprompted or turning the water tap off while they brush – you should be sure to reward your child straight away, to establish an association in their mind between good oral care habits and instant gratification.
5. Weave it around a story
Kids’ imaginations often need to be captured when it comes to something ‘dull’ like keeping on top of their oral hygiene. They need to know why something is important, but they’ll find it easier to remember and understand if you pitch it in a fun way.
You may, for example, conjure up a story in which the “bad guys” called Plaque create holes in teeth unless they are brushed away every morning and night. This’ll help your child to picture themselves a superhero every time they reach for their toothbrush.
If you have tried these or any of a wide range of other methods for encouraging good oral hygiene habits among your children, the chances are that you will already be well on the way to drumming the important lessons into your little ones’ heads. If so, great – and keep up the good work!
This post is a collaboration between ourselves and BF Mulholland.