We all know we should be brushing our teeth twice a day, but how are our kids going with it? A new report from Life Education has revealed that only half of Aussie kids are brushing their teeth.
71% of parents struggle to get their children to brush their teeth
The task becomes even more difficult during school holiday periods with 62% of parents agreeing it’s harder to maintain habits on holidays as there is less of a routine in the household.
Prevention by brushing properly is essential to look after our kids teeth, they only get one set of adult teeth. Engaging children early on with a positive message about oral health means they will be more likely to develop lifelong habits. So what can parents do to assist their kids with this important part of being healthy?
When to begin brushing your child’s teeth
Start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth comes through, usually at around six months of age. Clean your baby’s teeth with a soft wet cloth, or a small toothbrush with water. Clean all surfaces of the teeth and gums twice a day, in the morning and before bed at night.
How important is it to brush baby teeth?
Baby teeth matter, they help children to eat and speak, and guide the permanent adult teeth into position. Developing cavities in baby teeth can have long-term effects on your child’s oral health and well-being. Children’s baby teeth must remain healthy as they can affect their incoming future adult teeth. Unhealthy baby teeth mean unhealthy adult teeth.
Help your kids to brush their teeth
It’s fine to let your child have a go at brushing their teeth but remember you should always help them with the job. Children do not develop the fine motor skills necessary to independently brush until around the age of eight or nine.
How do I encourage my kids to brush their teeth?
When it’s finally time to give up that responsibility and let your child have a go at it, what can help them be successful brushers?
1. Use the right toothbrush
Choose the right size brush as they vary widely and there are many that are just too large for children’s mouths. Smaller brush heads are better as, not only do they reach further, but they are more comfortable for your child to use.
2. Be present and talk it up
You are the greatest role model your kids have, so as a parent, be positive when it comes to your oral health. Be there and be positive about brushing your own teeth – if your kids can see that it is part of your daily routine too, they will more likely want to copy. If you are not having any success in the bathroom, try another location in the house.
3. Visit your dentist
Make the most of your regular check-ups and ask your dental team to chat to your kids about the importance of looking after their oral health. Start with booking them in for a checkup of their own by the age of two years, and get them used to the chair, lights, glasses and the smells and noises of the dental room. Some modern facilities even have a TV attached to the roof so they can watch their fav show and be relaxed and comfortable, how times have changed.
4. Let them choose their kit
Whether it’s the flavour of the kid-specific toothpaste or the colour/charcters of the toothbrush, let your kids choose their own dental kit as this will encourage them to have a more enjoyable experience. This book is a great resource to have that includes a cardboard model mouth and teeth to make and a toothbrush, sweet.
5. Don’t let toothpaste stop them brushing
For some kids, the taste of toothpaste can be a turn off. Though they will eventually learn to use toothpaste, try to make your objective to at least get them into the habit of picking up and using their brush daily, or better still morning and before bed.
6. Reward your kids
Download, print & laminate our reward chart and attach to the fridge or in the bathroom. Every time your child has finished brushing their teeth, reward the effort with a sticker to place on the chart. To kids, a month is a long time and as kids are usually impatient, give a reward after a week of successful brushing. Maybe they get to pick out a special snack or get ten extra minutes playing video games, whatever works for you and them.
7. Dance, play and brush to the app
Try using an app to encourage the recommended 2 minutes of brushing time. There are many available, from songs, stories, countdowns, search for one that you think your kids will respond to, or try a variety to see which one works best. You probably will become completely over hearing the same song each time, but repetition works for kids, and so does music and song.