One challenge that all parents in the Northern Marianas share is getting their young children to practice good oral hygiene. Oftentimes brushing and cleaning one’s teeth can feel like a big chore; plus, few kids feel positively about going to the dentist. But it’s all the more important to instill the value of keeping one’s teeth clean and healthy at an early age. If your child forms good oral hygiene habits now, they’ll encounter fewer dental problem in the future.
As a parent, you have a big role to play in teaching your child how to take care of their teeth. Here are six tips that will make it easier for you and your child to jumpstart good oral hygiene habits. Encourage your child to care for their teeth, and make them proud to sport those pearly whites!
Take Them to a Trusted CNMI Dentist
Many kids, especially very young ones, are scared of going to the dentist. Their fear of the dentist may banish thoughts about caring for their teeth entirely. But a great dentist can also have the reverse effect on kids. A dentist who’s gentle, careful, and thoughtful in their practice can earn a child’s trust and make them more interested in their own dental care.
Your local dentists in CNMI can do a lot to help your child take care of their own teeth. It’s good to look for dentists that are specially trained in the field of pediatric dentistry. You’ll be assured that each regular dental procedure takes your child’s needs into consideration. Plus, a pediatric dentist can accurately explain difficult concepts, like how cavities are formed, in a way that your kid will understand.
Answer Their Questions About Complex Topics, Like Plaque and Other Dental Conditions
If the dentist isn’t around and your child still has questions, you can research dental care on your own and talk to them about it. Your child may want to know more about concepts like plaque, or the film of bacteria that coats their teeth when they aren’t clean. This is a good time to teach them about how plaque causes cavities and affects their gums. Likewise, this is where you can come to the conclusion that it’s important to brush and floss their teeth.
If you need help explaining the concepts or getting your child to visualize them, you can find books to read or videos to watch together. It’s through simple words and illustrations that your child will learn the importance of taking care of their teeth, plus what happens when they don’t.
Keep a Regular Brushing Schedule With Them
Ideally, kids should brush their teeth twice a day: once after breakfast and once before bedtime. Very young children should be accompanied while they brush their teeth. Parents can teach kids the proper way to brush, how long to brush, and how to brush from the front teeth to the back teeth.
You and your child can bond and get creative when it’s time to brush their teeth. For example, you can sing a fun song together to make sure that they brush for at least 3 minutes. You can also praise them for brushing thoroughly and compliment their great smile after they’ve brushed their teeth.
Let Them Choose Their Own Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Another way to make brushing more fun is to let your child choose their own toothbrush and toothpaste. For sure, this will make the habit of toothbrushing more pleasant for them, and there’s a bigger chance that they will keep the habit up.
Determine which toothpaste flavors are safe for your child to use, and ask them which among these is the one they like best. You can also let them choose a toothbrush in their favorite color or one that features their favorite animal, cartoon character, or superhero.
Demonstrate How to Floss Properly
To achieve good oral hygiene, it won’t be enough for your child to simply brush their teeth. They must also remember to floss, as this is how they can remove the plaque that sticks in between their teeth.
During your child’s daily tooth brushing routine, make sure that you’ve allotted time for flossing. Teach your child the proper method of cutting floss and gently applying it along their gumlines. Emphasize that both brushing and flossing are important, as flossing gets rid of dirt that even a toothbrush can’t reach.
Introduce Your Child to Foods That Are Good for Dental Health
Foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates—like chips, sweets, and soda—also create a lot of plaque on the teeth. Unfortunately, this may be the stage in your child’s development where they are fond of these foods. It’s in the best interest of their dental health, as well as their general health, to eat less of these.
As an alternative, it’ll be good to introduce your kid to foods that are good for their teeth and gums. These include fiber-rich vegetables and fruits and calcium-rich foods like cheese and yogurt. You and your child can share delicious meals with these foods, knowing that they’re healthy for your teeth.
Cultivating good oral hygiene now will reward your child well into the future. Surely, that’s something for them to smile about!
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