As the new school year moves near, many parents are left with the age-old struggle of how to get their child to brush their teeth regularly before heading off to the bus stop each day. The good news is that for those parents who put in the effort, their kids will usually develop good oral hygiene habits. Prior to the school year beginning, parents can start working on helping their child develop good daily brushing habits. “It’s important that parents get kids started young with good oral hygiene habits,” explains Dr. Bruno Sharp, a fourth-generation dentist who created a line of natural fluoride-free products called Dr. Sharp Dentistry, and is celebrating his 10th year as a Natural Oral Care provider. “For some families it may seem like a tall task, but it’s one that is important enough to keep working on. Most kids will come around and stick with the habits that they are being taught.” Here are some back-to-school tips for helping kids establish good morning oral hygiene habits:
- Teach them why. Discuss the reasons why they need to brush regularly, so they know why they are doing it. You can make this easier and still keep it age-appropriate by picking up some kid’s books about brushing, too.
- Make it fun. When parents make brushing time fun, little kids are more likely to want to participate. Have a brushing song or fun routine that goes along with getting the job done each day.
- Give them rewards. Kids love to get rewards, even if it’s a sticker added to their sticker chart. Once they meet their brushing goals, take them to the store to pick out a book. This will help to keep reinforcing the habit.
- Praise their efforts. Rather than focusing on what they fall short of or miss, stick to keeping it positive and giving kudos for the parts they do well. They can always go back and improve areas missed, but positive reinforcement goes a long way.
- Help and hold accountable. Up until kids are around 8-9 years old, parents may need to keep going into the bathroom with them to ensure proper brushing is being done.
- Establish Routines. While it may seem like a pain, it’s helping them to establish lifelong habits that will benefit them greatly in the long run. For examples my kids always ask me “Can I brush right after I do my homework assignment?” each evening because that is their routine
“The last thing parents want to do before school each day is to argue with their kids about brushing their teeth,” added Dr. Sharp. “When you make a plan and stick to it, you are usually going to be more successful in getting them to create the brushing habit. It’s all about looking after their best interest.”