Want to Create Healthy Dental Habits for Kids? Make It Fun!

April Jenkins | ROC Dental Group

Setting kids up with healthy dental habits is so important because it lays the foundation for maintaining good oral hygiene throughout their lives. Establishing a routine early will prevent dental issues over a lifetime while saving money, building confidence and self-esteem, and contributing to their overall health.

Although baby, or primary, teeth will fall out on their own, their proper hygiene results in better chewing function and nutrient absorption and contributes to speech development, permanent teeth alignment, and proper facial development.

Introducing your child to good oral healthcare should start as soon as the first primary tooth erupts from the gumline. Gently clean it with a soft, damp cloth twice a day. This helps establish a routine, making oral care a normal part of daily life. Lead by example with your own teeth brushing; kids usually imitate their parents. 

When more primary teeth come in, getting kids to brush for two minutes can be a challenge. Make it fun by trying these suggestions:

  • Set a timer or use a toothbrush timer app to make brushing for two minutes more engaging.
  • Create rewards to motivate your child to brush for the recommended two minutes.
  • Brush teeth together. It will take time for children to get used to brushing for the full two minutes. Be patient, consistent, and provide positive motivation to encourage this healthy habit.
  • Make it fun. Use toothbrushes and toothpaste with favorite characters, play favorite songs while brushing, or make it a game to see who can brush their teeth the longest.

I teach my daughter about oral healthcare through proper brushing techniques, flossing, and showing her food particles and plaque that get stuck between teeth. But it is also taught through ongoing conversations, demonstrations, and leading by example.

Children should have their first dental visit within six months of the first tooth coming through, or by the age of one. This visit is more of a “well check-up” to meet the dentist and dental team. We are just introducing your child to the dental office environment to make them feel comfortable and at ease.

Be sure to limit sugary snacks and drinks, taking special care not to leave sugar stagnant on the teeth. By being consistent and encouraging these positive habits, you can help your child establish a strong foundation for a good oral health.