How? Well, here are my main 3 takeaways:
- Start young
- Set a good example
- Motivate positively
Let’s get into more detail. First things first – what NOT to do. Do not just brush their teeth for them if at all possible. Do not force your child to do anything they really don’t want to do. This will set up a long, push-pull cycle of negativity. Also do not let you child sleep with the bottle, as this creates a prolonged exposure of the teeth to sugar which causes cavities. Now here is what I DO recommend for my parent- patients, step by step (let’s not be too rigid – some flexibility is allowed!)
- Start as young as you want by showing them how you brush your OWN teeth. Siblings can be a
positive influence too.
- Gradually start asking them, “Do you want to brush your teeth someday too?”
- When your child is ready, take them with you to the store or pharmacy and have them pick out
their own toothbrush and toothpaste. Have them take ownership. There are many great
products available that are just for kids.
- Now you can both brush your teeth together, side by side. Set a good example. Be creative.
Use rhyming songs, choo-choo train analogies, laughter at the bubbles, etc. Try to demonstrate
brushing using circular motions.
- Work with your dental hygienist to gradually improve and perfect their techniques as they get
Your child’s first visit to the dentist should be at age 1 or soon after. Not a lot will happen at that initial
appointment, but it introduces them to the idea of visiting the dentist. By visiting early, you are creating
(form the child’s perspective) a safe, fun Doctor-patient relationship. If, however, you wait until your
child is 2+ years old, then he or she may have some degree of anxiety with the idea of visiting.
Well, that’s it. Happy brushing!