Good habits start early, so teaching your kids how to properly care for their teeth and gums will help ensure they’ll be able to maintain a healthy smile long into adulthood. Because February is National Children's Dental Health Month, it’s the perfect opportunity to spend some time showing your kids how important oral hygiene really is.
Did you know that kids who end up getting cavities in their baby teeth could be more susceptible to getting cavities in their adult teeth? That’s why it’s a great idea to get your kids used to seeing the dentist for checkups while they’re still young and still have their baby teeth. In fact, you can start taking your child to the dentist by his or her first birthday.
Also, because baby teeth could become damaged in all of the same ways that adult teeth can, you can teach your kids the same oral hygiene habits that you implement for your own teeth daily. This includes not only brushing and flossing every morning and night but also eating right. Your kids’ health will benefit in more ways than one when they reduce their consumption of starchy foods and sugary beverages.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing a baby’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste as soon as the teeth emerge. It’s best to just use a dab of toothpaste that’s roughly the size of a grain of rice. Yep, that tiny amount is all you really need for your small son or daughter, as you don’t want your child swallowing any of the toothpaste.
Once your child is at least three years old and has learned how to brush without swallowing the toothpaste, you can start using a pea-sized amount. And when your child has enough teeth, you can start a flossing routine to get him or her acquainted with what it feels like to remove debris from between the teeth.
A lot of kids won’t be ready to brush their own teeth well enough until they’re around eight years old. Up to that point, you can let your child brush his or her teeth, but be there to give a second brushing to ensure the job was done right.
It’s one thing to brush and floss your child’s teeth, but it’s another thing to get kids to follow a daily routine on their own. Here are a few tips to help you motivate your children to take their oral hygiene seriously:
Go shopping with your child, and let him or her choose a kid-friendly toothpaste and toothbrush. You might be surprised by how excited your child becomes when he or she is able to use a toothbrush with a fun design that showcases a favorite cartoon character, along with toothpaste that comes in a yummy flavor (a lot of kids won’t be fond of strong flavors like mint). Your child can also pick out handheld flossers, as these will be easier to use and they also come in fun designs.
Download kid-friendly apps onto your child’s tablet. Choose apps that are amusing, engaging, and geared towards teaching kids how much fun it can be to brush and floss your teeth every day.
Motivate your children with rewards by keeping a chart handy to track every time they brush and floss. Add a sticker to each task that’s completed, and set up goals that your kids can meet in order to win a special treat or prize.
Because kids like to emulate their parents, you can also make brushing a family routine every morning and night. Set a time each night that isn’t too late, as the last thing you want is for your child to be too tired to brush.
Having the right dental insurance will allow your child to see the dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings. A family insurance plan from Spirit automatically covers your kids, so you can rest easy, knowing that everything from basic to major services, as well as orthodontics, will be covered*.
Young children develop routines that they’ll continue following as they grow, so take advantage of every chance to teach them how to maintain a clean and healthy mouth. They’ll thank you once they get older and have a sparkling smile to show off.
*See plan for coverage details. Varies by plan.