Let’s face it – the end of summer is here. Gone are the lazy days at the beach, icy cold lemonade stands, and magnificent summer vacations. Kids are going back to school and it’s time to get back into a routine – for both children and adults!
Pediatric dentists, Dr. Lee Weinstein and Dr. Tim Fagan, reveal their tips on how parents and children can ensure that oral hygiene is an important part of the back-to-school routine. Share these ideas with your patients (both big and small)!
Set up a routine and stick to it.
Schedules are more laid back in the summer and sometimes parents are a bit lax. It’s time to get back into a routine, and Dr. Lee Weinstein recommends keeping the same routine every day and every night. “Children love routines,” he says. “Get up, go to the bathroom, wash, brush, smile, laugh, walk around, do whatever it takes.” Dr. Weinstein suggests that parents also keep the same routine. “Children learn by example and parents can be a great example for them,” he says. “Kids can watch parents brush and floss and parents can show them how to do it.”
Children are eager to please, Dr. Weinstein says, and families can have fun tackling the oral health care routine all together. “March into the bathroom at the same time, brush, rinse, and spit....although not at each other! Have fun, floss, and make sure you see the dentist on a regular basis so they can help to prevent decay.”
Encourage 2 x 2
Tim Fagan, DDS, encourages his patients to practice "2 times 2" and brush their teeth for 2 minutes twice a day. “I recommend brushing right after breakfast and again at bedtime,” Dr. Fagan said. “Throw in a round of flossing at bedtime and the 5 minutes of oral hygiene you've devoted out of a busy day will go a long way in helping keep your youngster's mouth healthy.”
Dr. Fagan recommends that parents brush their child's teeth for them until the child can tie their shoes themselves. “Until then,” he says, “children don't usually have the manual dexterity to do a thorough job.” He also suggests using floss aids and floss sticks to make flossing easier for children. “Brushing can be super fun for kids by using toothbrushes that play songs or even flash with colorful lights,” Dr. Fagan suggests. Some electric toothbrushes even have timers in them to count down the 2 minutes of brushing.
Check out the GUM Crayola Timer Light Toothbrush or the Oral-B PRO 5000 SmartSeries Power Toothbrush with Bluetooth which gives real-time feedback on brushing habits.
Be creative and have fun!
Dr. Weinstein encourages parents and kids to have fun while caring for their teeth. “Go to the store and pick out a toothbrush that looks fun and one that your child can be excited about (just like you do with bandages),” he suggests. “Toothbrushes can be bright and colorful, play a song, vibrate, or even talk to you.” Kids can even choose a toothpaste they are excited about like Plaque HD which, Dr. Weinstein explains, “turns plaque green and you need to brush until the green comes off.”
“Just be creative and think outside the box a bit,” he suggests. It can be boring staying in the bathroom, so Dr. Weinstein suggests letting kids wander around or watch TV while brushing. This gives them some freedom and a distraction. Parents can also set up a sticker/reward system to encourage kids to set goals. “FUN is the operative word for something you have to do the rest of your life if you want to keep your teeth,” says Dr. Weinstein.
Check out these 7 catchy toothbrushing tunes at MouthHealthy.org.
Tim Fagan, DDS, MS, PLLC owns Enid Pediatric Dentistry in Enid, OK and has been a Dental Product Shopper evaluator for 9 years.
Lee Weinstein, DMD, also a long-time DPS evaluator, has been a pediatric dentist and consultant for over 30 years and practices in Scottsdale, AZ.