Teaching kids the value of dental care should be done while they are still young. In fact, the earlier they are taught about properly caring for their teeth, the better.
This is because a 2018 study confirmed that children who make a habit of good oral hygiene have less risk of developing plaque and other dental problems. Moreover, since fostering good oral health should begin at home, parents should make sure that kids know the value of good oral hygiene to keep their mouth and teeth strong and healthy.
To help you get started, here are four tips in instilling healthy dental care habits in children as young as three years of age:
1. Teach Him About His Teeth
The teeth are the key players during the first stage of digestion. Because of this, it is crucial that you help your child understand this part of his body and how to take care of it.
Start off by teaching him about the different kinds of teeth: eight premolars, 12 molars, eight incisors, and four cuspids. Helping him learn about which type of tooth goes where will establish an interest in oral health and, ultimately, a deeper understanding of how he can keep his choppers healthy.
To make learning more enjoyable, below are several strategies you can try when educating your little one about oral health:
Children are naturally curious, which is why engaging them in experiments to teach them about different things is an effective learning strategy. This is especially true for oral care education. Because they’re having fun, children don’t realize the extent of learning they get from the activity.
Puzzles and Games
Like experiments, games, and puzzles also bring fun into learning about oral care. Aside from being used as a pastime for a dentist’s patients, these activities can also go a long way in teaching kids about good oral hygiene.
One great example is the stringing teeth game. Here’s what you will need:
- A cardboard drawing of two sets of teeth: one set composed of 20 baby teeth and the other with 32 permanent ones
- A large-eyed plastic needle or toothpick
- Construction paper
- Dental floss
How to do it:
- Cut the cardboard drawings of teeth which serve as a template to be used by your child.
- Ask him to trace the cardboard templates onto the construction paper and help him cut out the shapes.
- Thread the needle with the floss. If you prefer using a toothpick, attach the floss to it using tape.
- Tell your child to start stringing the teeth according to how they are arranged in the mouth until it becomes a necklace that you can secure with a knot.
2. Let Him Choose His Oral Care Products
Allowing children to pick their own oral care products is another effective way of engaging them in proper oral hygiene. While brushes with timers and lights may seem like a novelty to you, these tools can actually help make your child look forward to brushing his teeth. Know that these items are necessary investments for your little one’s oral health future.
3. Guide Him Through Proper Brushing
Toothbrushing is one of the essential habits your child needs to learn to have a healthy set of chompers. Make sure you guide him through the process by teaching him how much toothpaste to use and the right way to brush.
Amount of Toothpaste
At three years old or so, children can use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste made with fluoride. However, it is crucial that you teach him not to swallow the toothpaste because it can lead to stomach ache.
The directionality of the brushing motion is a debated topic in oral hygiene, but the fact remains that it doesn’t matter. Whether you’re brushing in a vertical motion, back and forth, or in circles, you should be able to remove plaque and other debris from your teeth.
The key is to be thorough, so make sure you teach your child that even the hidden teeth inside his mouth require brushing.
4. Teach One Oral Care Habit at a Time
After your child establishes a routine for brushing his teeth, it is time to teach him to floss once a day to remove deep-seated plaque or food residue. Make sure to teach him one oral care habit at a time to make sure that he learns it well before moving on to the next one.
It’s Never Too Early to Have Good Oral Hygiene
Establishing a good oral care routine as early as possible is vital for children to maintain healthy teeth. Preventing tooth decay in youngsters has been known to reduce the risk of the condition from reoccurring during adulthood. This is why it is recommended that parents begin their children’s dental care education as early as possible.