Kids oral health is important from the moment those first few teeth shoot through your child's gums. While its not necessary to start brushing straight away, its good to get started as young as possible so your child starts to familiarise themselves with a toothbrush. After all, it wont be long until your child has all her teeth and oral health becomes a lot more important. But getting a child to brush his or her teeth is easier said than done. In our practice, we use a lot of stimulating things to excite the children about their oral health.For example, when fidget spinners were the in gadget to own, our therapists would tell the child to spin the fidget spinner and for as long as it was spinning, they needed to brush their teeth. There are also great online applications you can download to encourage excellent kids oral health. Brush DJ is a good example; the kids have to brush their teeth for the duration of the song, which is two minutes, the perfect length of time for good oral health.
Fun is the key to kids oral health
I honestly think fun is the key factor. As long as you make oral health sound like a game, you're on to a winner. If you're faced with a stubborn child who simply won’t brush, talking probably isn’t going to do much, especially if they're too little to rationalise. Children respond to pictures. So, we have a lot of pictures around the practice, and we use them to motivate the kids. For the little ones, its all about the music, moving images and games.Its also important that staff interact well with the children, which means being friendly, outgoing and down to earth. We want to encourage the kids, not scare them off. There’s no point in lecturing them. Giving a child a lecture simply doesn't work for anyone. Parents generally rely on us to encourage and motivate the kids; we don't want them to think its a chore. We want them to want to brush their teeth. And children respond best to positive reinforcement.
While in the old days, a lot of children used to be scared to go to the dentist, its all about reassuring both children and their parents that its a fun place to be. Yes, there will be some children who simply don't like it, and that's okay, its important to know how to manage that, but for the most part, the fear is a lot less now than it was. Its also a good idea to bring children in to see the dentist as early as possible. Honestly, as soon as they get a tooth, its a great time to visit. Another good idea is to bring them in when you're having some work done. If children see that mum or dad isn't scared, they tend to mimic that. If your child is sitting next to you, either in the pram or on a chair, they become familiar with the place and its a lot less scary when they come in. Especially because in the really early days of visiting,its more about giving them a spin in the chair than concentrating on their oral health. They can even try out the water pistol!
Managing oral health at home
At home, there are also some things that parents can do to encourage good kids oral health. Try not to let children go to bed with a bottle in their mouth and try to avoid sugars in foods especially soft drinks, juices and sports drinks. Other than that, its just about encouraging tooth brushing and making it fun.