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Building healthy habits when your children are young is vital for their developing teeth and gums. Establishing good habits begins in infancy. Clean baby’s gums with a clean cloth moistened with plain water. When their teeth come in, use a baby toothbrush and gently clean their teeth, adding a tiny dab of toothpaste when they are around 12 months. While you will have to help them when they are small, there are things you can do to make it fun for them as they learn to take over.

Show them what healthy habits look like by letting them watch you brush your teeth, or by making it a family activity. Parents are their first teachers and role models, so getting in on the fun will rub off on them. Younger children love to mimic, even more so if you exaggerate your excitement.

Young children are motivated by pleasure rather than necessity. They respond well to cute, silly songs you can make up about fighting the “plaque monsters” or “cavity creatures”. Having fun makes them forget this is skill they are developing.

Another motivating game is using a rewards chart for them to keep track of daily brushing time. They should brush for at least two minutes, so invest in a fun timer for them to set and follow. This lets them track their “success” and offering small rewards gives them something to work towards.

Appeal to their sense of independence by enlisting their help with choosing their own toothbrush. The children’s section has character-themed toothbrushes ranging from Sponge Bob to Minnie Mouse. Make sure it is soft-bristled and ADA (American Dental Association) approved to ensure that it is both effective and safe.

The flavor of most adult toothpastes are too strong for little tastebuds. Child-friendly flavors include strawberry, orange, and bubblegum, and once again just check to make sure it carries the ADA Seal of Acceptance on the label.

Begin flossing your child’s teeth when at least two are touching. You will need to help them floss until their fine motor skills are developed. When they are ready, provide them with hand-held flossers which are easy to use and effective at reaching the molars in the back of the mouth.

As a parent, helping your child learn how to care for their oral health is one of the most rewarding things you can teach them. By instilling good habits early, you will be helping them create a lifetime of healthy smiles! If you have any questions, or to schedule an appointment, please call the team at Children’s Landing Pediatric Dentistry today at 801.282.1802.