There are 1,440 minutes in a day, but we only need 4 minutes to keep your family’s mouths healthy. As a busy work-at-home mum, it’s easy to let certain aspects of our family’s well-being, like oral health, slip through the cracks. Here are my favourite easy ways to raise little dental superstars.
When we make oral hygiene a habit, it’s like a secret weapon that makes our lives a whole lot easier. Picture those sleep-deprived days, hectic weeks, or times when the kids just won’t cooperate — establishing habits is like a lifeline that helps us stay on track. It removes the need to think about it constantly and brings a sense of order to our day. Making oral health a seamless part of your daily routine is as simple as:
- Setting a Specific Time: I like to choose a specific time of day, such as after dinner or before bedtime, for the whole family to brush their teeth, which makes it easier to remember and less likely to be overlooked.
- Creating a Consistent Routine: Beyond brushing your teeth at the same time daily, try to establish a consistent routine for kids. Creating a sequence of actions makes toothbrushing an automatic part of your day. For example, after dinner, you could shower and use that time to floss and brush your teeth.
- Engaging the Kids: You can make the toothbrushing routing more enjoyable for everyone by getting creative and involving the kids. Brushing their teeth at the kitchen sink or during bath time can make it easier to guide them through the brushing process. Check out the 5 ways to make toothbrushing fun for kids below.
Don’t forget you can always ask your trusted family dentist for more advice on how to get kids to brush their teeth and look after their oral health. They can advise on the best toothbrushes and toothpaste and explain why fluoride is important for your family’s teeth.
Toothbrushing doesn’t have to be a chore for your kids or a battle for you. By adding some extra entertainment and creating a positive atmosphere, you can make it a fun and stress-free activity for everyone by trying the following:
- Singing Fun Toothbrushing Songs: My family loves making up toothbrushing songs or finding some catchy tunes online. Singing along while brushing can make the process more engaging and entertaining for kids.
- Brushing Kids’ Teeth in the Bath: Let me share a little secret I’ve discovered — brushing kids’ teeth in the bath can be a game-changer! Not only is it a convenient option, but it also adds an element of fun for the kids when they’re splashing around. And the best part? They can easily spit the toothpaste into the bathwater or a designated container, making cleanup a breeze.
- Including a Variety of Toothpaste and Toothbrushes: Keep things exciting by offering your kids a range of toothpaste flavours and toothbrush designs with their favourite characters. Let your children choose something new the next time you go to the supermarket, and alternate between different options to keep them engaged.
- Leading by Example: You can easily show your children the importance of oral hygiene by brushing your teeth in front of them. Children often imitate their parents, so you can encourage them to do the same by demonstrating good brushing habits.
- Offering Encouragement and Rewards: Don’t forget to dish out lots of kisses, cuddles and words of praise for a job well done. Positive reinforcement can go a long way in motivating your children to maintain good oral hygiene. You could even consider a reward system, such as sticker charts or small incentives, to acknowledge their efforts and make toothbrushing even more enjoyable.
Remember, toothbrushing is a motor skill that takes time for kids to develop, usually until they’re 9–10 years old, so be patient and continue to help them practice.
Regular dentist trips are essential for optimal oral health for both you and your children. Ideally, you should visit the dentist twice yearly to catch any potential issues early on. We all know that going to the dentist can be challenging for kids. However, there are a few things to keep in mind that can help make the experience more positive for them:
- Schedule Dental Visits during School Holidays: Plan dental appointments during school holidays when you and your children are likely to be more relaxed and have the mental space to absorb important information.
- Choose a Prevention-Focused Dental Practice: Look for a dental practice that emphasises preventive care, like ToothSparkler Family Dental in French Forest. These practices can educate you on what to look out for, offer insights into tooth development and loss, and identify any signs of decay, gum disease or orthodontic problems early on.
- Create Positive Dental Experiences: Regular dental visits and a preventive approach can help establish a positive association with the dentist. Having shorter and more frequent visits can reduce the chances of developing dental anxiety or phobias. Also, find a dental team experienced in working with children who can make dental visits enjoyable.
- Don’t Forget Your Own Oral Health: When taking your children for dental check-ups, remember your oral health and book regular appointments and cleanings for yourself.
Finally, maintaining good oral health goes beyond brushing and regular dental visits. Your family’s diet plays a significant role in preventing dental issues and promoting overall oral well-being. Here are some key things to keep in mind:
Focus on consuming whole, unprocessed foods as the foundation of your family’s diet. Incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. These nutrient-rich foods contribute to healthy teeth and gums.
Limit snacking, especially on sugary or processed snacks. Frequent snacking can increase the exposure of teeth to sugars and acids, leading to a higher risk of tooth decay. Opt for healthier snack options such as fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts.
Be mindful of hidden sugars in processed foods. Read labels and avoid products containing large amounts of fructose, corn syrup, glucose, fruit juice concentrate or honey. You can still enjoy a sweet treat occasionally which is homemade and its easy to make with your kids.
Incorporate meal prepping into your routine. By planning and preparing meals in advance, you can save time, reduce reliance on processed convenience foods, and ensure a healthier and more nutritious diet for your family. Check out our guide on how to cook healthy at home for your kids here.
We may all have a lot on our plates, but I hope I’ve helped you see how simple it can be to care for your family’s dental health. Remember, small habits can make a big difference in maintaining healthy smiles for you and your kids.
Dr. Sara Lonergan is the Principal Dentist and Practice Owner of Tooth Sparkler in Frenchs Forest. With a Bachelor of Medical Science and a Bachelor of Dental Surgery, she brings extensive knowledge to her practice. Driven by a holistic approach, she strives to find the best solutions for her patients, working closely with them to achieve their oral health goals. Renowned for her success in treating children, Dr. Lonergan creates positive experiences for young patients. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family and pursuing hobbies like reading, bushwalking, gardening, and maintaining order at home.