Growing up with a dental hygienist mom, I learned the importance of No Stank Breath early in life. My teeth have always been a priority…maybe an obsession. I once broke my nose in a swimming pool and despite the copious amounts of blood and my crooked nose, my only concern was if I’d knocked any teeth loose.
FYI: I had not. Yay!
Today, my husband grows impatient with my lengthy brushing/flossing/mouthwash routine, grumbling that we need double sinks in our bathroom if our marriage is ever going to work. I remind him we’ve made it almost 20 years with a single sink situation, and I’ve never had a cavity SO THERE.
Look, good dental health is crucial. It’s easy to understand as adults, but little kids are gross and don’t care. So, it’s important we help them form good habits while they’re young so they don’t embarrass the family name with their stank breath on public display.
Taking care of their teeth should be something that starts as early as possible, even before our children begin teething! Let them watch us brush our teeth, then brush their wittle bitty baby gums! Don’t use a toothbrush to do this, it’s too abrasive; instead, take a soft, damp cloth and wipe it over their gums. Once those wittle bitty baby teefers do pop through, brush them very gently with a soft toothbrush. Once they’re old enough to do it by themselves, it won’t seem like a chore because it’s just something they’ve always done.
Visit The Dentist
See the dentist on a regular basis. This is also something that can start when the children are tiny, if only to watch you get a routine check-up, some dental work, or aligners fitted. Watching you will hopefully make them less afraid of their own visits and help prevent them from developing a phobia, which happens a lot. This is why there are pediatric dentists, people! Ideally, kids should see their dentist every six months, or at least once a year throughout their childhood.
Monitor Their Diet
When it comes to dental health, it’s not just about keeping the teeth clean that counts (although that is important, duh); it’s also about what kids eat.
If we want our children to have healthy teeth and good habits, we shouldn’t eat too much sugary food or drink too many sugary drinks. Although these things can be a lovely treat once in a while, a healthy, well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruit and vegetables is not only better for overall health, but especially dental health. Water is a miracle because it’s a fantastic way to rinse food particles and bacteria away without leaving any potentially harmful residue behind, and it also benefits our bodies, skin, hair, and breath.
Reward Good Habits
For children, positive reinforcement can be a great way to show them how to behave and teach them, and it’s no different when it comes to dental health. Think about giving them a little reward (that’s not full of sugar) for doing well when it comes to taking care of their teeth, but regardless of tangible rewards, always make sure you acknowledge that they’re doing well. Everyone likes to hear, “Great job!” especially little kids who look up to us.
Make It Fun
As with anything seemingly mundane, there’s a way to make it fun. Instead of standing over the sink in silence, play a brushing song! Not only does it make the habit a little more interesting, but it can also act as a timer to ensure kiddos are brushing long enough. Invest in a funky toothbrush, decorate the bathroom so it’s an inviting space, create a silly brushing routine. Whatever turns a habit into something the kids look forward to is a big win. AND it’ll curb your kid’s stank breath. Double win.
Committing to the Tooth Fairy charade? I did. Tell the kids she only takes clean teeth. You’re welcome.