Toddlers always do what they’re told, never complain about doing things they don’t like, and rarely lose their temper. As any parent knows, none of these things are true. Toddlers can be stubborn and resistant in their perfectly normal efforts to test boundaries and explore what they can and cannot do (or get away with). Sometimes, that push-back involves important responsibilities and habits that parents are trying to instill in their toddlers, such as cleaning their room, getting dressed, and eating healthy food. It can also get in the way of good dental habits and effective teeth brushing.
Parents know how important dental hygiene is for their toddlers, even if the toddlers don’t. Tooth decay has been recognized by the Surgeon General as the most common chronic childhood disease, and the National Institutes of Health reports that about 42% of children ages 2-11 exhibit signs of tooth decay. The things parents do today to instill healthy habits and involve dental professionals in their kids’ dental care can help fight this public health crisis and provide a lifetime of benefits.
The biggest challenge for many parents of toddlers when it comes to oral hygiene is getting their child to brush their teeth regularly and effectively. Here are some helpful tips for parents who want to keep brushing from being a battle:
- Be a role model. Kids learn a lot just from watching their parents. Have your toddler watch you as you brush your teeth, explaining to them why its important and that you do it every morning and evening, and showing them how to brush their teeth the right way. Brush alongside them, and it doesn’t hurt to look like you’re having a good time brushing your teeth either.
- Something is better than nothing. If your child is particularly resistant, just getting him or her to brush a little bit can seem like a major victory. But it’s better than not brushing at all. Try to encourage your toddler to brush a little bit longer each time.
- Buy kids’ toothpaste. There is a reason they make flavors of toothpaste just for kids. Their tastes and taste buds are different than grown-ups. If their toothpaste tastes yummy rather than yucky, that will increase the chances that they will brush regularly and longer.
- Have them pick their own toothbrush. the oral hygiene aisle at your pharmacy or grocery store is chock-full of toothbrushes specially designed to attract and delight children. Some even have a tone or make fun noises when the child brushes long enough. Have your toddler pick one that speaks (figuratively and maybe even literally) to him or her.
- Reward them for a job well done. Positive reinforcement never hurt anyone. Give your toddler a little reward each time they do a good job brushing.
In addition to teaching good oral health habits at home, Dr. Ted Herrmann of Assure A Smile recommends regular dental checkups for children every six months, starting at age one. At Assure a Smile, we make a visit to the dentist as pleasant and comfortable as possible for kids so that they grow up thinking of a dental appointment as positive and healthy rather than something to be dreaded and avoided. Our holistic dentistry approach views kids’ oral health as a vital component of their overall health. We see ourselves as partners with parents, sharing a passionate belief in doing everything we can to keep them happy and healthy.
Holistic Miami Pediatric Dentistry at Assure a Smile
Assure A Smile welcomes current parents as well as soon-to-be-parents to contact us to start learning about oral hygiene and the bacteria that cause decay and disease. Please request an appointment online or speak directly with our front desk at 305-274-0047.