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Oral hygiene for children: Helping them form good habits

Oct. 19, 2021
How can parents get their kids to brush regularly? It's a question as old as parenting. Here are some ideas to keep children engaged in their oral health.

By Christina Lee

Oral hygiene needs to be part of our daily routines throughout our entire lives. Having a healthy smile can have an impact on your overall health, so healthy oral care is a big component of that picture of your health. When it comes to teaching oral hygiene to children, it’s important to start early and create good routines and habits that they will carry forward through their entire lives. The earlier you start, the better, but no matter what age and what the current habits are, there are things you can do to create better habits for improved oral hygiene.

Brush together 

Demonstrating good oral hygiene is a great way to show your kids how to properly brush and floss. Kids will typically imitate what their parents are doing, so if you join them in their brushing and flossing, they’re more likely to follow suit. When it comes to flossing, many kids have a difficult time getting the hang of it, so flossing their teeth for them or providing them with floss picks can help build the habit of including flossing in their oral care routine.

Spend enough time 

If your children are eager to finish brushing their teeth to start playing or move on to something else, they may skimp and try to rush through it. They should be brushing for at least two full minutes. Getting a timer for the bathroom counter that’s easy enough for them to set and start themselves can help make them feel in control of their brushing. 

Sing a song

Another way to ensure your kids are hitting that two-minute mark is by singing or playing a song for them that is about two minutes long. A brushing song can add some fun to the routine, and letting the kids choose the song or rotate between songs can make things even more fun in what they may otherwise see as a boring daily routine. 

Let them choose their toothbrush 

Kids can often be motivated by something as simple as a fun, new toothbrush. Take them to the store and let them choose their own brush in their favorite color or with their favorite cartoon character, and their toothpaste. Being able to pick out what they’re using themselves can make the whole process much more exciting for children and make them eager to keep up with their oral hygiene habits.

Supporting resources

Showing your child some videos about the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene habits can demonstrate to them why they need to make this a part of their daily routine and take the time to do it properly. Videos and books designed for children are wonderful tools for educating them on the importance of oral care and can also be fun for them to watch and read. 

Rewards system

Sometimes being rewarded can be the biggest motivator for kids. Creating a rewards system can help you track their progress, ensure they’re keeping up with their habits, and motivate them to brush and floss twice a day. The rewards can be anything from a new toothbrush to a fun outing, and you can show them how they are doing with a calendar and stickers that they can add themselves. 

Regular visits to the dentist

Going to the dentist can be intimidating for some kids, especially when they aren’t going to regular dental visits. Making sure that you’re taking them about every six months can help them become more comfortable with going to the dentist and can also help prevent problems from going unnoticed and having to be taken care of later, like cavities. When kids regularly visit the dentist, they see that it’s not scary—plus, they’ll usually walk out with a new toothbrush as a surprise.

Teaching children good oral hygiene habits from a young age is essential to creating solid routines for healthy oral care. Finding fun and inclusive ways to build these habits can help encourage children to keep up with these habits and do a thorough job with their brushing and flossing. Healthy oral care is important to maintain for your entire life, so starting to build this habit as a child is vital in creating that lifelong routine for a great, healthy smile.

Christina Lee writes about technologies and marketing news for services including Academized review, among others. She also plays a vital role as a project manager for Top Canadian Writers and AcademAdvisor.