Make it fun and kids will follow. Brushing gets a boost from a toothbrush with a blinking light that tells kids how long to polish those pearly whites. Different flavored toothpastes can also add to the fun.
Keeping up with a kid is no easy feat. Most parents know that a child is a bundle of energy with an attention span that lasts mere minutes. So when it comes to teaching children the lessons of being an independent person - such as personal grooming habits - there are distinct challenges. But with a little patience and a dash of fun, no task is insurmountable.
There is growing evidence that children's dental health is an area on which most families need to focus more attention. Dentists say they are treating more and more young patients who have cavities in their primary teeth.
A new Center for Disease Control and Prevention study reports that almost a third of all kids between two and five have cavities in their baby teeth. Experts attribute the trend to several factors, including an upsurge in sugared snacks, juice and soda consumption, the rising use of bottled, non-fluoridated water, and the fact that children simply don't spend enough time brushing teeth.
Many people are under the assumption that oral hygiene is not something that really needs to be worried about in young kids. After all, baby teeth will eventually fall out and new teeth will grow in their place. But this is far from the case. The American Dental Association (ADA) says that cavities in baby teeth can cause a number of problems, including tooth loss, ear and speech problems, crooked permanent teeth, severe pain, poor self-image, and tooth decay.
That's why the ADA recommends starting children's dental care when they are still babies. A dentist's visit should occur by age one. Brushing should begin at age two and be supervised until a child is six or seven years old.
The recommended brushing time to get teeth clean is a minute for the top arch of teeth and a minute for the bottom. So how does a parent get their child to cooperate?
It can be done if brushing is made says the maker of the FireFlyÂ®, a bright and sparkly children's toothbrush that lights up and flashes.
The toothbrush was developed when a dentist could not get his young daughter to brush for long enough.To inspire "psychological compliance," he basically took the LCD light out of a pair of fancy sneakers and put it in the bottom of a regular toothbrush. With more research and development, he created the FireFly, which uses the same "blinking technology" in a durable, ergonomically-designed toothbrush for kids.
A minute can seem interminable for an active child looking to move on to his or her next activity. The FireFlyÂ®, which blinks for 60 seconds, is a way to instill the one-minute each arch brushing routine. Children press the button to start the LCD light housed safely in the handle of the toothbrush. Once the light stops blinking, it's time to move onto the other row of teeth. Push the button again to activate the light.
But oral care doesn't end with brushing alone. Here are some other things that are important.
â¢Forgetting to floss? Children should also floss regularly - as early as when they have two front teeth erupted, say experts. Flossing is really important for molars because they are generally closer to each other than the front teeth. Again, until they reach the age of six, an adult will have to help them. Gently lift the floss up between teeth towards the gum and all the way through to the inside of the mouth. Don't saw - that can damage fragile young gum tissue.
â¢Time for a change? Everyone, adults and children, should replace a toothbrush after three months of use. If a child has recently had a virus or infection (like strep throat), change the toothbrush immediately after he or she gets better to avoid re-infection.
â¢Fun flavor. There are a variety of toothpaste flavors available to appeal to kids who don't enjoy the plain minty variety most adults use. And with cartoon characters adorning the packaging, a child may be racing to add a dab of paste to his or her toothbursh and get brushing.
The best way to impart lessons of oral care is to show by example. Make it fun and educational for children and they'll be more inclined to follow along.