Starting a new school year is a great opportunity to get your child back into a steady routine, which includes eating right, getting to bed on time and making sure they are taking care of their teeth each day. As a pediatric dentist, I believe keeping a healthy mouth is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, especially when you can instill the proper oral care habits early on. As a parent, I believe it is our responsibility to make our kids’ oral care a top priority – this includes taking them to the dentist and ensuring they are practicing the correct habits and techniques in between visits.
It’s alarming that 50 percent of children will have a cavity or filling between the ages of five and nine.
While brushing teeth is important, parents may not realize that brushing teeth alone is not enough each day as it only reaches certain areas of the mouth. The three key activities to a healthy oral care routine for your child are brushing, flossing and rinsing with a fluoridated mouthrinse. Flossing and rinsing with a fluoridated mouthrinse are essential in keeping kids’ smiles bright, beaming and healthy.
I know it can be a struggle to get your kids to care about their teeth but here are some tips and tools to help ease back into the school schedule, and get children of all ages engaged in their oral care:
• Show, don’t tell: Share the brushing, flossing and rinsing experience with your children as they are more likely to imitate behavior they see adults doing.
• Make oral care fun: Turn flossing into a funny-face contest or brushing into a game of “Simon Says.” Try rinsing as a family and see who can go the longest without laughing.
• Reward healthy behavior: Offer rewards for achieving brushing, flossing and rinsing goals with stickers or prizes to acknowledge their efforts as a job well done.
• Clean to the beat: Brushing, flossing and rinsing are all rhythmic activities. Why not play music to keep the beat going. On average brushing should last two minutes and rinsing should take 60 seconds. Together these last the length of a typical song.
– Dr. Kaneta R. Lott is a board certified pediatric dentist and the owner of one of metropolitan Atlanta’s most successful pediatric dental practices. She is a consultant to Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc. and a fellow with the American College of Dentists and the International College of Dentists. For more tips and information on how to encourage a healthy oral care routine for your child, visit www.ListerineKids.com.