A Bright Smile: Teaching Kids Proper Dental HygieneFebruary 16, 2017
This post was sponsored by Give Kids A Smile as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
A great smile can make a big impact when first meeting someone. For both adults and children, taking care of one’s teeth is an important part of the everyday routine. From brushing to flossing and more, practicing proper dental hygiene on a daily basis is important for me and my kids. After, I want my children to always feel confident in their smiles.
Speaking of the importance of great smiles, have you ever heard of Give Kids A Smile? It’s a program that started when a few dental professionals launched a one-day grassroots event to provide free, comprehensive dental care for 400 kids in St. Louis. Services received by the children include examinations, professional cleanings, fluoride treatments, sealants, restorations, oral surgery and x-rays. Over time, this program has expanded to well over 1,300 events in all 50 states benefiting over 5.5 million underserved children. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Give Kids A Smile program, which continues to tirelessly reduce the problem of dental disease in children.
How do I encourage my kids to brush their teeth twice per day? Here are some easy tips that have worked well for our family:
1. Model the behavior: Children like to imitate their parents, so brush your teeth right along with them. It will teach them the proper technique and make the whole process more fun for them.
2. Use fun, kid-oriented products: Does your child love certain cartoon characters? Find a toothbrush and toothpaste that feature those characters. Having that extra incentive to brush the teeth really makes a difference in the long run. If your child is still young, be sure to use a fluoride-free toothpaste that’s designed especially for kids.
3. Create incentives for brushing: Negotiating with kids definitely works. Consider rewarding your child with a trip to the playground for practicing proper dental hygiene: brushing his/her teeth for a full two minutes twice per day, flossing daily, and visiting the dentist twice per year. For more tips on proper dental health, check out the Mouth Healthy site.
4. Establish a routine: Just like many adults, children thrive on a predictable routine. Incorporate a proper oral care routine into your child’s morning and evening routines. In our home, the kid’s evening routine includes taking a bath, changing into pajamas, brushing teeth and reading a story together.
5. Brush for them: For very young kids, brushing teeth may be fun from a sensory standpoint, but the results may not be that effective. I always let them play-brush their teeth for a minute or so, but then I make sure to effectively brush their teeth myself.
As a mother, I believe it’s one of my main responsibilities to encourage my kids to take proper care of their teeth. Dental disease affects every area of one’s life, including sleeping, eating, studying or simply smiling. Did you know that tooth decay is the number one chronic infectious disease among children in the United States? In fact, over 40% of children aged 2 to 11 years old are affected. Among lower-income, underserved, Medicaid recipients, the number is almost 50%. Although Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act have had some positive effects on children’s dental health, the problem still exists among many children in this country.
Over the last 15 years, Give Kids A Smile has had the help of over 500K volunteers, including dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, dental technicians, dental office staff, dental students, teachers, parents, school nurses, and many other community health professionals. Kids, who would have otherwise never received dental care, have received dental treatment thanks to Give Kids A Smile. Would you like to attend, volunteer or donate to the Give Kids A Smile initiative? Visit their website here and click “Find Dental Care for your Child” for a comprehensive list of resources. To stay up-to-date on the latest news & events from Give Kids A Smile, follow them on Facebook.
Learn more about how the work of Give Kids A Smile has made a difference in the lives of millions of children. How do you encourage your kids to practice proper dental hygiene?