Your child’s baby teeth are only in place for a few short years, but they are influential in their oral health and development. They allow your child to learn how to eat and speak. Each tooth also acts as a placeholder for their adult teeth. If a primary tooth is lost too soon, it can have lasting consequences for your child’s dental health. Tooth decay is the biggest threat to young smiles. Cavities are more common than childhood asthma, but you can keep decay at bay with a great oral hygiene routine from a young age. Unfortunately, children often view brushing as a chore. You may sound like a broken record reminding your little one to brush their teeth, but that may not be the best approach. According to a new study, praising your child may be the secret to winning the brushing battle.
Praise Improves Oral Hygiene Habits
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, and the Santa Fe Institute analyzed the dental habits of three-year-olds based on parental praise. According to the results of a study published in Child Development, fluctuations in parent praise cause inconsistencies with brushing time. Researchers found that children brushed for longer on days when their parents praised them and with fewer instructions. However, the child’s mood, sleep, and parent stress also influenced fluctuations.
Although further research is needed to find the extent of parental praise and childhood brushing habits, dental professionals recommend plenty of encouragement. Your child will learn the importance of taking care of their teeth and gums. Instead of it feeling like a chore, they are more likely to commit to brushing and flossing into adulthood.
Tips to Keep Brushing and Flossing Fun
As a parent, you create the foundation for your child’s dental future by setting an example. Besides caring for your own smile, your mood and tone will also influence their oral hygiene habits. It’s best to keep the experience fun and rewarding. Here are a few ways to support a cavity-free smile:
Let Your Child Pick Their Toothbrush
Your child should brush their teeth at least twice daily for 2 minutes. A soft-bristled toothbrush that accommodates the size of their mouth will make their brushing routine more effective. You can get your child excited about brushing by letting them pick their toothbrush. They can choose from fun colors and characters to look forward to brushing their teeth.
Create a Reward System
Your child can track their brushing habits using a chart. After they reach a goal, they can earn a special reward, like staying up past their bedtime for a night.
Besides caring for their smile at home, don’t forget to visit their dentist every 6 months for a cleaning and checkup.
About Dr. Sarah Esparza
Dr. Esparza achieved her dental degree from the University of Maryland Dental School and has regularly continued her education to provide up-to-date services. She treats patients of all ages, including children. If your child needs a cleaning and checkup, contact our office today to request an appointment.