Let’s face it. Getting our kids to brush their teeth can be a challenge.
Even more, we know how important it is for the child’s long term health to establish healthy oral hygiene habits.
Is it best to just pin the toddler down and brush their teeth?
What about just letting them do whatever job they do on their own?
What are some strategies that will support them long term toward developing healthy oral hygiene habits?
In this article, let’s dive into how to help your children establish healthy brushing habits.
Oral hygiene does play a big role. Here are some helpful steps you can apply to set up a healthy mouth cleaning routine with your young kids.
Modeling healthy habits is the key…
Our kids are the most amazing sponges of what we do. They are hardwired to copy and imitate our habits (even the ones we would prefer they not copy!)
So, to help our young kids learn healthy oral hygiene, we have to model it. Modeling healthy oral hygiene habits requires that we care for our own oral health in front of our kids, rather than putting it off until they are in bed.
If we expect that we can ‘teach’ our children how to care for our teeth without them seeing everyday that we do the same, we are picking a big fight with how we are hardwired to learn as children.
How to get permission to get inside your toddler’s mouth…
Even more so, if we want to be able to help the child with brushing their teeth, we also have to model this.
Funny story for you… Susan and I realized many years ago that we have consciously chosen to live a life on a different course than much of our modern culture. One (of the many ways) we have done this is to help one another view what’s going on in our mouths.
For example, if one of us has something going on that we want a closer eye on, we’ll ask the other to go outside with us into the bright sunlight with a mirror and have the other take a look around so we can be better informed of whatever we wanted to have a better look at ourselves. (In fact, Susan has figured out a cool way to accomplish this herself in recent years that we’ll plan to share with you someday.)
So, given that we would look around each other’s mouths, our family was raised seeing that mom and dad do that, so it wasn’t a big leap for us to ask them to participate in the ‘family mouth exploration’ game.
Now, you don’t have to be as crazy as us and do it as a family affair. But having your toddler see you and another family member looking around one another’s mouths will be very helpful in convincing the toddler that it’s ok to let you look around their mouth.
Why it’s important to help them with their oral hygiene
The bottom line is young children simply don’t have the manual dexterity to effectively clean their own teeth. Yes, they can learn how to take great care of their teeth and gums, but they need ‘back up’ from you in the beginning.
In fact, some dentist friends of ours have even argued with us that many adults don’t have the manual dexterity to effectively clean their own teeth, particularly when it comes to flossing well. We’ll dive into this subject in a different article and stay with helping our kids for now…