The Dos and Don’ts of Modeling Dental Care to Your Children

The Dos and Don’ts of Modeling Dental Care to Your Children
Posted on 06/07/2017

Any parent who has ever had a child swear loudly in public out of the blue knows that little ones pick up on what you do and say. They're observing even when you wish they wouldn't. When it comes to dental care, what your kids see you do can have a bigger impact than what you try to teach them. Follow these dos and don'ts to model the best oral health care to your kids.

Do Take the Time to Brush Your Teeth the Right Way

Although you may feel okay with winging it sometimes when you're home alone, always be mindful of your brushing when the kids are home. Brush your teeth at least twice per day for two minutes every single time. Make a habit of brushing in front of your children, too. You may even want to make it a daily tradition for everyone to brush at the same time before going to bed.

Your brushing technique matters, too. Kids may try to emulate the exact way you brush, so position your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums and gently brush back and forth with short, steady strokes. The American Dental Association recommends using a soft-bristled brush, and the toothbrush should fit easily into your mouth so that it can reach all your teeth.

Don't Multitask During Your Dental Care Routine

When you try to do multiple things at once, it can be hard to focus on doing any of those things right. Try to center in completely on the process of brushing, flossing, and rinsing. It only takes minutes, so make the short time as effective as possible.

Stand in front of the bathroom mirror while brushing your teeth for optimal focus. (Doesn't it seem that kids want to flock to parents when they go to the bathroom anyway?) When you're watching your own technique, it's easier to stay on track and do it the right way. Brush, floss, and swish with mouthwash twice per day, focusing on one task at a time.

Do Talk to Your Kids About Your Dental Care

Whenever you notice your children take an interest in what you're doing as you brush your teeth, take the opportunity to talk to them about dental care. Frame it in a positive light, and talk about how healthy habits can help you stay well and happy. You may also talk about the logistics of how long your kids should brush their teeth and why they need to brush twice per day.

Most kids will come up with questions when you start talking to them about dental care. By asking some of your own, you can get a better idea of how much your child has already absorbed from past conversations. Some open-ended questions you may ask your children to get the conversation going include:

  • Why do you think it's important to brush your teeth?
  • What's your favorite part of taking care of your teeth?
  • What's your least favorite part of brushing?
  • Why do you think I expect you to brush twice per day?
  • Can you help me understand tooth-brushing a bit better?
  • What else is a part of taking care of your teeth?

By asking your kids these questions when they take an interest in dental care habits, you affirm that their opinion matters, and they can feel empowered to take an even greater interest in taking care of their teeth.

Don't Use Any Tobacco Products in Front of Kids

Pretty much all parents would say that they hope their kids don't smoke or use other tobacco products. However, it can be hard for some parents to give up their nicotine habit. No matter what the case may be, you should never smoke or otherwise use tobacco products when your children are watching.

In addition to being a contributing factor to lung disease and many types of cancer, tobacco can wreak havoc on your dental health. It can reduce your body's ability to fight off infections in the teeth and gums. It can also stain your teeth and gums as well as dull your taste and sense of smell. Children who see parents smoke are twice as likely to pick up the habit themselves.

Finally, in addition to teaching your children excellent dental care habits at home, it's important to take them to the dentist for a regular cleaning and check-up every six months. If your children have certain needs, your dentist may recommend more frequent check-ups.

It's important to choose a dentist that has a focus on children and families. At Dentistry For Children & Adolescents, we have a strong commitment to helping kids have a comfortable experience so that they have a positive association with going to the dentist from the start. That experience can empower them to ultimately have greater dental health as they grow up.


Dentistry for Children & Adolescents

  • Edina Office - 7373 France Ave. S., Suite 402, Edina, MN 55435 Phone: 952-831-4400
  • Burnsville Office - 14050 Nicollet Ave., Suite 100, Burnsville, MN 55337 Phone: 952-435-4102
  • Eden Prairie Office - 6385 Old Shady Oak Road, Suite 150, Eden Prairie , MN 55344 Phone: 952-932-0920

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