Your little warriors and princeses can have sparkling pearly whites!! ~Tips & Tricks~
We know all too well, the Herculean task of helping in maintaining a consistent oral hygiene practice among our tiny tots!
Brushing twice daily (especially at night, as the salivary secretion is reduced during sleep and more chances of cavity formation is observed), washing the mouth after every meal/snack, using floss regularly, routine dental visits (every six months), eating a well-balanced and healthy (non cariogenic i.e not sticky and sweet) diet etc. becomes a chore.
We mums know the struggle all too well! But hang in there. This arduous task of inculcating healthy oral habits in your child is not an overnight process. It needs patience, faith and commitment. And when you have successfully established a healthy system, it becomes a lifelong habit. It saves a lot of painful, and often expensive dental visits in the future. They say young minds are flexible and easily influenced. Hence, persistent and unswerving dedication from your end can do wonders. As everything else, good oral hygiene also starts at home. The most significant and fail proof method is the method of ‘modeling by showing.’ This tactic is often implemented at dental clinics too when the child is uncooperative and difficult. An adult preferably the caretaker is chosen as the model. The dental treatment is demonstrated on the caregiver and the child is asked to follow suit. Children learn from us adults. They try to imitate us. Studies have shown better compliance among the pediatric patients when the doctor employs such tactics. Likewise, if we demonstrate toothbrushing to them on a daily basis and ask them to imitate us, over time, effective toothbrushing or good oral hygiene becomes a part of their daily routine. Another successful method is ‘being consistent.’ Any action practiced consistently overtime becomes a habit. If you make a child go to bed at a certain time for 10 consecutive days, the child will sleep at the same time on the 11th day. Likewise, compelling (albeit pleasantly) your child to brush his teeth before bed; consistently for a few days, will help in creating a permanent oral health routine in the child’s life. A little perseverance initially is all it takes to save a lot of pain and trouble in the future. Showing friendly videos or animations that promotes healthy oral habits is another way you can convince the little warriors. Few links to such videos have been posted at the end of the article. Stay with your child and monitor them while they practice their oral hygiene rituals. Studies show, it is advisable for you to brush your child’s teeth till they accomplish proper hand eye coordination of tying their own shoe laces (approx. 6-7 years of age). It is also ideal to brush for atleast 2 minutes. You can keep an electronic or sand timer which can make the process a fun activity for the child. ‘Reward’ your child. You can make a fun poster and every time they do effective toothbrushing without much hassle, both of you can paste a star or a sticker together.
‘Reinforcement’ is very important. Whichever method you employ in creating an oral health routine, it is vital that you keep reinforcing it at regular intervals. Reinforcement is a key principle adopted by many healthcare professionals when trying to incorporate any positive health related habit; even among adults!
Another hard aspect of keeping their sparkly whites sparkly is taking them for their dental visits/dental treatments. Many of my friends tell me how taking them or rather ‘dragging’ them to the dentist is tantamount to walking on hot coals. Children develop an aversion to the dentist and a dental office and no amount of cajoling or bribing gets the job done. It is infact a catch-22 situation where not going to the dentist and not availing the treatment worsens the diseases and the child is reluctant to go to the dentist for fear of the treatment. Hence, it is imperative you make the dental visit, a routine! Do not visit your dentist, only when the child is in pain or in need of treatment. But make a dental visit even when the child is healthy. Do not let them associate the dental office with only pain and ailments. Let them familiarize with the dental office/clinic. Let them have a friendly banter with the doctor and the dental staff when they are not sick or in pain. The biannual routine dental visits will help in that (every six months).
These are some of the offhand methods you can use to develop a healthy habit and keep their teeth healthy.
Until next time, take care, be healthy and God bless you!