Back to School Tips for Positive Oral Health Care Habits
Back to school means that daily morning routine where time is of the essence. It also means that your child is growing up and assuming more responsibility for preparing for the school day and getting ready for bed. But it takes more than a little guidance to help your child grow up healthy, especially when it comes to oral hygiene, because early habits set the stage for lifelong dental preventative care. While a school age child is ready to take on daily brushing and flossing, getting them motivated to do so because they want to is often a bit of a challenge. Try these measures make the process easier.
Buy Products Children Will Like
Children are not just tiny adults. They have small hands, small mouths, small teeth, limited coordination, and different taste preferences. Regular sized toothbrushes, dental floss you have to hold wrapped around your fingers, and strong, minty toothpastes and mouthwashes, particularly any with alcohol content, are not child friendly. Children will reject them and it may make the process even more difficult if they resist. Rather than set the stage for frustration, but products specifically designed for children: Small sizes, easy to handle, soft grips, bright and sparkly colors, and fruity or bubble gum flavors.
Find Ways to Make Daily Oral Hygiene Fun
If kids look forward to the nightly routine of brushing their teeth, or morning school preparation isn’t looked at as a chore they’d rather not undertake, it makes everything easier. Oral hygiene can actually be a pleasant ritual if they think it is a fun activity. Try making it a family affair where everyone brushes and flosses together. Make funny faces, sing special songs or play music your child has picked out, make toothpaste foam smiles – anything that will make them look forward to spending special silly time together. When they forget to think about brushing as a chore and see it as enjoyable, they may even remind you when it’s time to get ready for bed.
Positive Reinforcement and Rewards
Depending on the age of the child, a reward system may inspire them to take responsibility for the brushing habit.
Make a Tooth Brushing Chart: Use construction paper, markers, glitter glue, crayons, whatever is on hand to make a tooth brushing chart. Colgate has a chart that is a good example. Colorful stickers are the best way to track brushing and flossing, and if the child gets to pick them out themselves and stick them on the chart that adds some pride of ownership to the record keeping. Set the number of stickers targeted to win a prize for both brushing and flossing, and have a very special reward on hand for exemplary performance.
Gift Cards or Games: For older kids who act like dental care is an imposition on their precious time, there are two approaches. First, play on their desire for approval (everyone likes to be acknowledged verbally for a job well done), even if they don’t act excited about your praise. Check – ups with no cavities, a marked improvement from the past visit, or similar oral health goals, (or that successfully meets another oral health goal) may merit a gift card for I-Tunes, a new mobile app, a video game, or a favorite clothes store.
Check Ups Can be Fun Too
Making regular dental check-up appointments at Alabama Family Dentistry, serving residents living in Birmingham, Gardendale, Warrior, Sumitron and surrounding communities in central Alabama reinforces the virtues of oral health care routines and helps instill the importance of daily maintenance to your child. Good check-ups become associated with either verbal praise, or a tangible incentive. Either way, positive reinforcement and child appropriate cleaning products help take the challenge out of establishment of a back to school morning and bedtime routine.