The following is a guest post by Australian writer, Peter Minkoff:
Smile is a universal language that opens numerous doors and opportunities, but that isn’t the only reason you should teach your kids to care for their teeth and mouth. Poor oral health can lead to gum disease, which increases risk of serious health issues, such as stroke, heart attack and other. Developing a responsible approach toward dental hygiene in kids is not that difficult, especially if it’s done with encouragement, support, motivation, and caring advice. If you want to teach your little ones to care for their oral health and to keep that great habit throughout their lifetime, here are some tips to help you with that.
You don’t start building a house from the attic; you need to begin from the foundation. Yes, even toddlers should be taught to brush their teeth by themselves. Sure, you should be around to help, advise and cheer, but it’s very important for them to see teeth brushing as something they routinely do. Before you leave this important duty in the safe hands of your little ones, you should begin the care for their oral hygiene the first few days after their birth. Just be careful about the choice and amount of toothpaste when they start teething.
GIVE A GOOD EXAMPLE
Children learn things by observing other people, especially their parents. If your kids see you avoiding your dentist appointments or brushing and flossing lightly and superficially, they will do the same. Show them they should do it better, by doing it better. Make sure they get the chance to see you caring for your teeth, and try to emphasize how important and worthwhile that is by making comments like “Wow, it feels great when my teeth are clean. I love brushing”.
MAKE IT FUN
Besides imitating, the best way children adopt new knowledge is through playing. Brushing and flossing don’t have to be annoying chores. By making learning about dental care fun, you are helping kids develop a positive attitude towards it. There are plenty of activities and games that will help you with that.
KEEP REGULAR DENTIST’S VISITS
Dentists are the modern day boogie men, and many parents often use them to scare their kids, but the “punishment and reward” system should never be used when it comes to dentists. They are essential for children’s health, but trying to explain that to a scared child while a stranger is poking cold and metallic instruments in her mouth, can prove to be quite useless. Instead, start early with dental visits, even though there are no emergencies, to create trust. Avoid using words like “pain” and “hurt”, and use positive phrases instead (healthy, clean, strong teeth) to make the visits less alarming. Putting on braces can be really traumatic for kids, especially for teenagers who are very concerned about their looks, so you might consider alternative treatments such as clear alignment systems, discussing them with your child’s dentist or orthodontist.
TEACH THEM TO LOVE HEALTHY FOOD
Last, but not the least, kids’ diet has a major influence on their oral health, and it is important for them to realize that. Depending on their age, you can do that by playing “happy tooth-sad tooth” (cut out pictures of food from magazines and books, and draw happy/sad teeth on the food that is good/bad for them) or simply talk about how certain foods harm their teeth, while others make them stronger.
Proper dental care is something that will follow your kids throughout their lives. If you set the foundations early on, you can ensure a healthier life for them, a goal every parent strives for.
Peter Minkoff is a lifestyle writer for Voice Boks, living in Brisbane, Australia. After graduating from Australian Institute of Creative Design, he worked as a fashion stylist and also as a freelance writer for magazines in Brisbane. Beside writing, he loves shopping, making DIY cosmetics and traveling. His future plans are in creating his personal lifestyle blog about everyday life-saving tips. Peter can be reached at email@example.com.
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