Encouraging children to look after their teeth can sometimes be an uphill battle. Here are some oral health tips that encourage better dental care in kids.
Fruit, vegetables, cheese, lean meat and nuts are better for teeth than cookies, candy and chips, but children sometimes need encouragement to make those healthy choices. They worry about eating unfamiliar food, and can feel uncomfortable without control over their own diet. If you want to improve your children's eating habits, consider these tips to make the process fun for them.
- Involve your child in buying or growing your food, and let him prepare it for the table.
- Bring your child's favorite teddy to the dinner table. Young children are often happier about eating an unfamiliar food if they have "fed" it to someone else first.
- Make healthy food convenient. Hungry children don't want to wait while you chop carrots, wash an apple or cut cheese into cubes, so have a container of pre-prepared healthy snacks in the refrigerator ready for when a stomach starts to rumble.
- Give your kids a list of healthy snacks, take a trip to the supermarket and let them fill a basket and pay at the checkout. At home, put the snacks in a special box and label it with their names.
- Save sugary and starchy food for mealtimes. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) says that eating these foods in meals reduces their potential to cause cavities.
Brushing and Flossing
Parents should brush their children's teeth up to the age of eight, according to the AAPD, and floss them until they turn 10. But implementing good habits is hard when your child won't cooperate; keep up the fun additions with these interactive routines at the sink.
- Buy two or three toothbrushes and different kinds of toothpaste, such as Colgate's® SpongeBob™ anticavity fluoride toothpaste, and let your child choose which one she'd like to use. Also let her decide whether it's Mom or Dad's turn to brush, and what brushing music to play.
- Ask the dentist to give you a "lesson" on how to brush children's teeth, and make a reward chart that your child adds to when you've done your job. List the rewards that can be earned, such as a hug, a kiss or a trip to the park.
Getting your child into the habit of going to dentist will be great for them later in life. Here are some tips to ensure they look forward to each visit.
- Start young, so your child sees dentist visits as a normal part of life. The AAPD explains that children should have their first visit after their first tooth appears and no later than their first birthday.
- Prepare your child for what to expect by reading children's books about dentist visits.
- Don't reward your child for going to the dentist, as this implies it's something to be endured. Turn the visit into part of a fun excursion instead. Go to the movies, the park or another fun destination before or after your appointment.
- Stay calm and let the dentist handle it if your child fusses.
Oral health tips are easy to come by; putting them into practice is harder. But with a little creative thinking and patience, your kids can enjoy taking care of their teeth throughout their childhood.