Getting your kids to care for their teeth
Tabitha Acret, Dental Hygienist at AIRFLOW Dental Spa, shares her helpful hacks on getting your little ones to care for their teeth.
From a young age, we as parents need to lay the foundations for successful health outcomes in our children’s future. Starting these habits early and promoting good health to prevent disease all play a crucial role. That’s not to say it’s an easy task. Some of you may have dental anxieties of your own, children who resist the taste of dental products, or worst-case scenario they hate the sensation of brushing.
Below are some helpful hacks for promoting good oral health and getting kids to care for
Lead by example
Children, especially young children, love to mimic other people so by brushing together and having
them witness you doing so too, they will understand it is part of a daily routine.
Start as soon as teeth erupt
As soon as your child’s teeth erupt they should be brushed by you. This is for one of three reasons; to remove bacteria that causes dental disease, to create good long-lasting habits, and to desensitise
your baby to the toothbrush and brushing motion. Even babies who are exclusively breastfed should
start this practice as soon as their teeth erupt.
Under the age of two, no toothpaste should be used. Only once your child is able to spit and rinse, can an appropriate toothpaste with low dose fluoride be introduced.
If you discover your child dislikes the taste of toothpaste there are different flavours available and sometimes you may need to try a couple until a more palatable one is found.
Let them have independence
While parents are advised to help their children with daily brushing until the age of at least 8 (due to manual dexterity), children often want to show their independence by brushing on their own. It’s a good idea to let them start and take control, however most of the time it is recommended that an adult brush over a second time to ensure all bacteria is removed.
Stain the bacteria
A good way to have children understand where they need to brush and why is to use plaque
disclosing tablets. These can be purchased from the chemist or your local dental professional. The way to use them is to brush like normal before chewing the tablet and rinsing your mouth. Once you have rinsed, the tablet leaves behind a stain where areas of plaque remain. It is a great way to either explain why you still need to help them brush, or guide them to improve their technique.
Simply brush once more to remove all the colour and remaining plaque in the mouth. This is an excellent at-home tool and can also be used when some more dental health motivation is needed (even with the bigger kids). I often encourage the whole family to do it and make it more of a fun experience.
Brush for 2-5 mins
Often children think that a quick once over with the toothbrush is good enough, however research shows that 2- 5 mins is needed to remove all bacteria. By using an egg timer or playing their current favourite song, it will encourage kids to brush a little longer and successfully clean their teeth and gums.
Explain why we brush our teeth
The answer being - to keep our teeth and gums healthy so we can eat and speak comfortably. Avoid using any negative talk about the dentist here so we don’t create unnecessary anxiety or fear. There are many resources available including apps, books, YouTube and websites that you can read or watch with your child to educate them further.
Visit your dental professional for preventative care
Along with providing great preventative care for your child, your dental professional will also help to
motivate and reinforce the good habits you are trying to teach at home. As annoying as it may be,
sometimes a third party explanation of why teeth brushing is important can make a big difference.
Try to book routine appointments at 6-month intervals for professional consults. Technology such as the AIRFLOW © Dental Spa can provide a gentle clean and leave those teeth feeling stronger, brighter and whiter. It avoids any and all intrusive practices making it the perfect pain free option for your little ones.
Tabitha Acret has 22 years’ experience in the dental industry. She graduated from Newcastle University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Oral Health and has since worked in private practice and as a dental educator at Sydney University.
Tabitha has a passion for community dentistry, preventative care and implant maintenance. She has volunteered clinically both within Australia and overseas and volunteers on a regular basis for the Dental Hygienists Association of Australia (DHAA).
She is the current DHAA National Vice President, Northern Territory Director and Chair of Continuing Education nationally.
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