It’s common for young kids to turn to their mum for help when they’re cleaning their teeth at night. Generally, it’s the mothers who are looking after and teaching their kids how to maintain oral hygiene. The kids listen because Mum is the serious one, while Dad is usually the ‘fun’ parent. The good news is that Dad can use that trait and make it work when it comes to cleaning teeth. In other words, there are quite a few ways to turn brushing their teeth into a fun and effective game.
When it comes to kids’ oral health, the earlier, the better. When a child first gets teeth, it’s important to start using a small toothbrush or using their fingers to get around into the mouth. This should be done morning and night. All this helps form good habits at a young age.
And this means that it should be part of the parents’ routine. While it’s often common for mums to look after this, it may be good for Dad to step in. It’s a good bonding session, and it gives Mum a break. Turning this into a Dad-and-child routine is a great idea.
There are various strategies here. There’s a free app called Brush DJ, which has been quite useful for a lot of my clients with young kids. It plays music for two minutes, which is the recommended time for brushing. The brusher races against the clock to get a clean mouth before time is up.
Another option is putting together a fun song — I’m sure that’s a breeze for most dads! Or count their teeth — “Tooth number five is now clean and shiny!” We do that when they come in here at The Dental Room. We like to make the whole experience fun and educational for our young clients.
In addition, if Dad’s teaching kids how to clean their teeth at night, Mum may be doing the routine in the morning. It means that the kids are learning the correct procedure but in different ways.
First visit to the dentist
It’s important for your children to visit the dentist by the age of four or five years. They’re welcome to visit earlier — they can come in at the age of three just to have a quick look. This is a way of normalising an oral hygiene routine, by making them comfortable towards regular visits, the young kids understand that the dentist is certainly no ‘boogeyman’.
Mind you, I encourage parents not to threaten their kids with a visit to the dentist if they don’t brush their teeth properly. This creates an impression that seeing the dentist is a negative thing and is some kind of punishment.
By making oral hygiene fun and an activity that can be shared with both parents is going to work in the kid’s advantage. Instilling a good oral hygiene routine at a young age should last them the rest of their life. It becomes a normal part of their day-day-to-day routine.
Want to know more about kids oral health? Head over to our page on Dentistry for children and kids.