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Sandy Odle

Sandy Odle

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Oral Health Tips for Kids

Teaching dental hygiene to preschoolers has got to be one of the hardest duties for any parent. As a dentist, you may have trouble talking with otherwise well-intentioned parents about steps they can take to make toddler teeth cleaning both fun and effective at reducing cavities. Dental care for a one year old is far different than for an adult. The most obvious difference is their teeth, or rather, lack of. Some parents can be of the inclination that due to having fewer teeth, younger children don’t need as much help in keeping them clean, yet nothing could be farther from the truth.

Some parents may not try to teach oral hygiene habits until their kids are already experiencing problems like cavities or toothaches. At this point, many children are turned off by the notion of having to brush every day, or even after every meal. The more important thing to remember with toddlers is that they can’t always justify extended periods of brushing, so smaller learning segments are key in instilling lifelong habits. Obviously, anything that parents or dentists try should have the short attention span of the toddler in mind.

The importance of brushing teeth can be taught even to very young children through a few simple implementations by both parent and dentist. All effective dental hygiene begins at home, and there are some ways to help parents get the process going:

  • Tell parents to lead by example. Make it easy for young children to see them brushing their teeth at the end of the day, and having it become a ritual that they can participate in by watching how mom or dad does it.
  • Older siblings can get in on the fun also, by reminding the younger kids about why it’s important to brush your teeth every day.
  • Tell parents to use the proper amount of toothpaste relative to age: a rice grain sized amount for up to age three, and a pea sized amount for older toddlers aged three to six.
  • Offer the child a reward chart, similar to a coffee shop stamp card. Maybe they’ll get a star sticker each time they ask to brush their teeth at the end of the day, or if they ask questions about how to take care of them effectively. After a short period, they can be rewarded with a toy or special meal.

Pediatric dental cleaning costs can be lessened through effective tooth brushing and instillation of habits that stick. Obviously, remind parents that they should bring their children in for an annual cleaning or check up, and especially if their toddler tells them of any pain or problems with their teeth at home. Helping to create friendly, positive experiences with the dentist makes teaching these hygienic lessons that much easier.

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