Childhood isn’t just the time where the body physically grows larger, it’s also the time when the brain and habits develop. Good habits established in childhood will usually continue through adulthood and the rest of life. That’s why it’s so important to help your children establish healthy oral hygiene habits. When they establish these good habits during adolescence, they will continue through adulthood. With these healthy habits, they can look forward to a lifetime of healthy teeth and reduced dental costs.

If you want to give your children the gift of good oral health, here are 9 tips to help them establish healthy oral hygiene habits.

family brushing their teeth in the bathroom together

1. Monkey See, Monkey Do

Children love to imitate the actions of people around them. With that said, if they see you picking your nose, they’re probably going to pick their nose. If they see you brushing and flossing your teeth, they will want to brush and floss their teeth. If you want your children to establish healthy oral hygiene habits, make sure to regularly brush and floss your teeth in front of them. You should also display healthy oral habits like not using your teeth as tools, not biting into anything hard like ice or hard candy, and wearing your appliances like retainers, night guards, mouth guards, etc. regularly.

You should also make them very aware of when you visit the dentist twice a year for cleanings so they know it’s normal and they should go too. When they see you performing all these healthy habits, they will imitate them.

2. Make Brushing and Flossing a Family Event

Kids love to do anything as a group instead of as a solo activity. To help them get into the habit of brushing and flossing, make it a family event twice a day. Gather everyone together in the bathroom and brush and floss your teeth together. When it’s a group activity, your children have no choice but to participate! They might even find it fun.

3. Never Speak Negatively About Visiting the Dentist

Kids’ brains are like a sponge and when you say something negative about anything whether it be your own appearance, a family member, or visiting the dentist, they will remember. As a result, they will form their own negative thoughts about the subject. With that in mind, make sure to never say anything negative about visiting the dentist in front of them. Otherwise, they can begin to develop a fear of visiting the dentist and start searching for excuses not to go. This can cause a lifetime of dental treatment avoidance and a wide range of oral health problems. Always be careful what you say around your children.

4. Explain What Happens Without Good Oral Hygiene

Some children don’t brush their teeth because they don’t understand why it’s important. Their parents simply say brush your teeth or you will get cavities. Instead, explain to your child what plaque is, how it attacks their teeth and gums, and what happens when they don’t brush and floss away from the bacteria. Think cavities, gum disease, bad breath, painful symptoms, tooth loss, and long and expensive procedures. It’s also important to mention that poor oral health is connected to higher risks of heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes, low immune system, and more. The more education about dentistry and how it affects your body your child has, the more likely it will stay ingrained in their heads.

mother and daughter brushing their teeth in the bathroom, looking in the mirror

5. Give Rewards

If your child loves getting rewards (whose doesn’t?), you might want to consider a reward system for brushing and flossing. For instance, you can create a chart that has every day of the week and boxes for brushing and flossing on each day. For every day they brush twice and floss, they get a sticker. By the end of the week, if there’s a sticker on each day, they get a prize of your choice. Come up with a system that motivates your child and watch them happily brush and floss every day.

6. Let Them Choose Their Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Make brushing more fun by letting your child choose their toothbrush and toothpaste. They can get one with their favorite cartoon character or you can choose a Bluetooth toothbrush that connects with fun apps.

7. Use Apps, Music, or Technology to Make Brushing More Fun

There are dozens of apps and toothbrushes out there that make the experience much more fun. For instance, some apps turn brushing your teeth into a game. You can also create a playlist of 2-minute songs and have your child listen to one song every time they brush their teeth.

8. Encourage a Healthy Diet

The last way to establish healthy oral habits in your children is by encouraging a healthy diet. Make sure to feed them lots of fresh fruit, veggies, lean meats, and whole grains and keep the sugary drinks and snacks to a minimum. A healthy diet can play a large role in good oral health.

9. Don’t Skip Visits To Your Fort Atkinson Family Dentists

The last way to encourage healthy oral habits for your children is by never skipping a visit to our Fort Atkinson family dentists at BKS Dental. Our team loves helping you and your family achieve a healthy and beautiful smile. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is with dental exams and cleanings twice per year.

If you or your child are overdue for a dental cleaning or exam, please contact our Fort Atkinson family dental office at (920) 563-7323 to book an appointment.