Children love to imitate their parents – whether it’s a son putting shaving cream on his face like Dad, or a young girl dressing up in Mom’s necklaces and bracelets. They pick up good dental habits, too, when they see how Mom and Dad take care of their teeth and gums.
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, a good time to remind ourselves about the importance of learning good oral health practices at a young age. The earlier we begin using good practices on the road to dental health, the better our smiles will be as we grow older. In my family’s house, for example, we keep a timer by the sink so that our young daughter, Milla, knows how long she has been brushing and doesn’t stop too soon. We find it really works!
To develop good habits in our children, it is helpful to let them see us when we brush and floss – even making it a regular family activity! Going to the dentist with our children for routine appointments also lets them develop a trusting relationship with the dental experience.
Other tips to help children learn good dental habits include:
- Don’t reward your children with candy. A hug and a big smile will do.
- Teens should be given a prize for a “no cavities” report. Maybe a gift card or new phone app.
- Limit sugary drinks to mealtime, and follow with water. Dilute apple juice with water to cut down on cavities.