4 Ways To Get Your Toddler To Take Care Of Their Teeth Between Dental Visits
Your little one should have their first dental visit by the age of one. Once they're a toddler, ongoing encouragement between dental visits helps to instill positive lifelong habits, as well as minimizes the chances of cavities and other dental problems as your child ages. Here are four things you can do to teach the importance of oral hygiene and get your toddler to take good care of their teeth between dental visits:
Create a Schedule
One of the most important things you can do to ensure proper oral hygiene for your toddler is to create a schedule for brushing and flossing so that it's done at around the same time every day. This will create a daily habit and make it less likely that your toddler will complain about daily brushing once they get used to the schedule. And you may just find that your little one takes care of their oral hygiene without having to be reminded every day.
Create your schedule based around your lifestyle, as opposed to the actual time of day, so your toddler can more easily interpret the schedule. For example, you can schedule morning brushes to coincide with breakfast cleanup and evening brushing can be done right before bed time. Consider scheduling flossing for after snacks just to break up tooth care tasks into manageable timelines.
Make Brushing Fun
It's important to make sure that brushing doesn't feel like a chore, or it won't be a priority for your little one, and you might even have to deal with complaining all the way to the bathroom. There are lots of great ways to integrate fun into brushing time – try one or more of these options:
- Turn on some music and have a dance party.
- Practice the ABC's while singing (over the sink of course).
- Take turns telling each other a story while the other one brushes their teeth.
- Use glow-in-the-dark brushes and turn the lights off.
The idea is to get your child engaged in something fun while they're brushing so they associate oral care with enjoyment.
Ask for Oral Care Tips
Instead of always being the teacher, take some time out a few times a week to ask your little one for oral care tips. This gives them an opportunity to recall the things they've learned from you and your dentist and will make them feel good about their dental care habits and knowledge. Ask about avoiding cavities, how to floss, how long brushing should go on for, and other questions of this nature.
Create a Reward Program
Rewarding your toddler for a job well done reinforces the good habits that you teach them and makes it more likely that they'll enjoy the process of maintaining proper oral hygiene as they grow up. Using a calendar, put a star on every day that your toddler takes care of all their oral care tasks without complaint, and after every five stars, or whatever you decide, you can offer a reward such as a new coloring or reading book, a new toy, or a special picnic trip to the park.
It's a good idea to hang your calendar up on the wall in a space where your toddler spends a lot of time so they'll be reminded throughout the day to take care of their teeth in order to earn a star. You can let your child put the star on the calendar themselves at the end of the day, which serves as reinforcement for the good daily habits they are building.
With the help of these tips and tricks, you may find that your little one enjoys the task of taking care of their teeth on their own – and your dentist will surely thank you for it.
For more information about caring for your child's teeth, contact a local dentist, or visit http://www.drheimann.com.