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How to Instil Good Brushing Habits in Your Kids

publication date: Apr 18, 2016
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author/source: Harold Katz

Many parents are unaware that their child’s oral health can have a direct affect on their health and well-being, conditions such as insomnia and eating habits can be affected by the pain from cavities. A regular teeth cleaning routine is essential for good dental health. A report on the state of children’s oral health from the RCS – Faculty of Dental Surgery, estimated that 90 per cent of dental caries are preventable, it is important to keep teeth and gums as healthy as possible. Tooth decay may not cause any symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage, therefore it is important for children to visit a dentist regularly.

Helping your children brush their teeth once they can do it independently may seem like overkill. Nonetheless, it is advisable for parents to help their children brush their teeth until age six and then monitor tooth brushing until children are 12 years old.

Monitoring your children's tooth brushing entails checking the condition of their toothbrushes. Toothbrushes that have worn bristles are less effective at cleaning teeth than fresh toothbrushes. Children six years old and younger should first brush their teeth on their own, and then a parent should brush the child's teeth again.

To ensure that your children brush their teeth thoroughly on their own, there are five strategies:

1. Begin early The earlier you stress the importance of healthy brushing and flossing habits, the better. That way, the process becomes routine and there is less of a daily struggle to get your children to practice healthy oral care.

2. Stay positive Giving positive feedback and reinforcement when it is time to brush teeth helps children. Creating a sticker chart that rewards your children for brushing and flossing twice per day works well for younger children. 

3. Set the example Help your child by letting them see you brush your own teeth. If your kids see you brushing and flossing thoroughly and regularly, it will set the precedent and result in your children brushing more frequently and better. 

4. Make it fun Your kids should use dental hygiene supplies that are intended for children, which are smaller and also have other features that are important for children. However, the fun part about this is that children's toothbrushes, for example, are typically more colourful and are decorated with appealing themes like cartoon characters. Get your young ones involved in the fun and have them pick out their own toothbrushes and toothpaste with their favourite characters. 

5. Get creative Make brushing time creative just as you would if you were playing a game with your child. one suggestion is to sing a song while they brush. It takes at least two minutes of brushing to get rid of bacteria and build up. Some kids are more resistant to brushing than others. Therefore, make brushing relatable for children. One tactic to do this is to read a book that centres around brushing and flossing or create your own story to tell your kids. 

Dr Harold Katz, a dentist with an advanced degree in bacteriology and a lifelong advocate of good oral health, is the founder of The California Breath Clinics and the developer of the The Breath Company line of premium oral care products.