Did you know that, according to the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools, 51 million school hours are lost due to dental-related illness or office appointments every year? It may be time to cue your children on good dental practices. With about 3.9 million children being orthodontic patients in the U.S., there's also a chance your child will need braces down the line. Why not establish good oral health habits young so they can enjoy a healthy, pearly white smile once they're adults?
Here are some tips to help you establish good dental habits at home this year.
Inspire, Don't Lecture
The last thing a kid of any age wants is a lecture about brushing their teeth. Let's face it: most kids simply don't understand long-term consequences and won't brush properly unless they want to. Perhaps the best way to inspire is through leading by example.
Depending on the age of your children, it may be good to brush your teeth after lunch or mention it more often. Try not to make it too obvious what your agenda is, but rather lead by example. Since most children look up to their parents, this can be a powerful way to inspire your kids to be more like you and follow in your footsteps by brushing their teeth.
Another good practice is to start the dental hygiene talk young. The younger your child is, the more time and willingness they have to accept that dental hygiene should be a habit, not a chore. So, parents need to be sure that their child is exposed to dental hygiene from early on.
Fortunately, many TV shows offer episodes and lessons about brushing teeth and the importance of preventing cavities. Additionally, the younger a child is exposed to good habits, the more likely it becomes something they do automatically rather than manually. This is important because if a kid wants to brush their teeth or feels weird not doing it, then parents don't need to invest as much time into keeping their young ones brushing.
Make Dental Care Fun
It's no secret that children are more willing to do things when it appears to be fun. So, consider incorporating characters they like in their dental products. If you've ever been down a toothbrush aisle, you likely already know that dental products for kids come in just about every major cartoon or Disney character imaginable. Therefore, be willing to spend a few extra dollars to keep your kid's toothbrushes fresh and entertaining. After all, good dental hygiene pays off in the long run, so a fancy light-up toothbrush is a small investment for good quality teeth for a lifetime.
Teach Kids to Eat Healthily
If your child attends one of the 33,619 private schools in the U.S., then they've likely learned about healthy eating habits in class. While their school will likely focus on how healthy eating affects physical health, it's also important to talk to your children about how eating healthy also affects their oral health.
Kids, especially the younger they are, are often drawn towards candy and sweet things. However, teaching and leading by example that healthy foods can taste good too is crucial to good dental health. If your children gear towards sucking on sweets during lunch or snack time, perhaps it's time to start leading by example. Make sure your kids have access to natural foods like fruits and veggies and that they understand candy may taste good, but it's not good for your teeth or your long-term physical health.
Although dental hygiene may seem like an impossible task to teach the young ones, parents stand to offer a tremendous amount of encouragement. Through leading by example, starting education young to form habits, making dental care fun and exciting, and teaching kids indirect ways to keep their teeth healthy, parents can help kids practice good dental hygiene that will last for a lifetime.