When you visit our family dentist office, it is probably because someone in your family either has cavities or you want to prevent them. We are focused on the same thing – good oral health and part of that is brushing teeth at home. While we can help to prevent cavities and infections, it is important that we work together and as a parent, that means spending time monitoring your child’s teeth brushing habits. Keep in mind that just because they can physically hold the toothbrush, does not mean that they know how to brush properly or that they are brushing long enough. In order to remove most of the food particles, bacteria, and plaque from their teeth, they need to brush for two minute at a time, twice a day. We understand that this sounds easy but isn’t in real life. That’s why we are constantly looking for ways to make it a little easier… enter media.
Most kids are enamored by cell phones and tablets. If you have a baby, they are probably used to seeing you snap pictures of them or talk on the phone. Kids are used to playing games or looking at apps, and most teens even have their own phones. Media and electronics have become such a part of our culture that most two-year-olds have started to develop the skills necessary to operate a smartphone or tablet. They are used to receiving information this way, making it easy to use this medium to encourage healthy oral hygiene habits. In fact, we recommend that you play a video showing your kids how to brush properly. Do this every month or so as a gentle reminder. It will be received better than you constantly reminding them, and the videos are short.
Simultaneously, you can use media to start having fun while brushing. As a family dentist, one of our favorite tips is to play music while brushing. A lot of families will take turns picking their favorite music video and playing it while everyone brushes teeth. Whether you have little princesses enamored with Frozen or a Tween that can’t get enough of Uptown Funk, this is an extremely easy way to turn teeth brushing time into something to look forward to. This will also help everyone to wake up in the morning and get off to a good start – something all families can use.
In the evening, we recommend that you visit the American Dental Associations website. They have a series of two minutes videos that you can watch with your kids. Each one is the right amount of time that they need to spend brushing their teeth. They have popular cartoons like Adventure Time so they aren’t boring videos, but something your kids are likely familiar with already. The benefit is that most kids like to watch cartoons so this makes brushing teeth easy, instead of something to fight about. The goal is to do this frequently enough so that a routine is established. Once they learn how to brush for two minutes at a time, every day, you can eventually take away the videos and music but they will continue to do it. As a family dentist, this is what we want – kids that establish healthy habits they carry on into adulthood.