The earlier you can help a child establish healthy habits of any kind, the more likely they will be to maintain them for life. One of the most crucial is good oral care. Kids who are introduced the right way to brushing, flossing, and taking care of their mouths in general will grow up seeing this as an easy and fun activity that pays off with a winning smile. This is what we encourage as your trusted Glenwood Springs dentist.
Begin with your baby
Even before a baby’s first tooth has erupted, you should be gently cleaning their gums with moist gauze or a washcloth. After that first tooth arrives, start lightly brushing it for your child.
Making mirror faces
Have young kids make funny, open-mouth faces in the bathroom mirror to start developing their awareness of how clean (or not clean!) their teeth are. Point out the food particles between their teeth before they brush and how clean their teeth, tongue, and gums are after.
Give a gradual handoff
When they are approximately three years old, children have the dexterity to start slowly taking some responsibility for their dental care. But, it’s important that you don’t make them solely responsible right away. A gradual transition will help ensure their success. As they progressively become more self-directed in their brushing routine, explain that their increasing autonomy in this area is a reward for doing such an excellent job!
Invite your kids to watch you happily tend to your own oral care. When you finish brushing and flossing, flash a big smile in the mirror and say that your mouth feels fresh and clean, and that your smile looks great!
Emphasize the value of proper nutrition
Good oral health is about more than just brushing and flossing. What a child eats and drinks plays a big role in the condition of their teeth and gums. However, don’t portray sugary foods and beverages as “bad.” Instead, talk about how “good” healthy foods and plenty of water are for them. And, of course, practice what you preach! It helps to have plenty of healthy snacks around during your busy days, as we tend to “cheat” and give in to our junk food cravings when we’re in a hurry.
Make an adventure of visits to the Glenwood Springs dentist
Always talk about dentist visits in glowing terms—the friendly, smiling staff, the cool “throne” you get to sit on, the fun prizes. True, there can be the need for procedures that aren’t entirely enjoyable, but when kids develop an overall liking for the dentist’s office, those procedures are seen as the exception not the rule. And ensure that your kids view cleanings as “normal” by visiting your dentist regularly.
Share the excitement
Announce the good news about your child’s dental visit to family and friends. Whether it’s an excellent checkup or great behavior during a procedure, it’s worth sharing. And, of course, prep those people to provide only encouraging, upbeat feedback.
Putting Kids on the Path to Great Oral Health
Establishing good oral health awareness and routines takes time and a consistent effort, but the payoff in a lifetime of excellent oral health is worth it. We have extensive experience in making office visits fun and stress-free for kids. Visit elevatewillits.com or call 970-279-5647 for more information about your Glenwood Springs dentist or to schedule your or your child’s comprehensive oral wellness exam with Drs. Steinbach and Van Gorden.
We proudly provide comprehensive, biological dental care to patients of all ages from Basalt, Aspen, Carbondale, and surrounding Colorado areas.