Celebrated each year on 20 March, World Oral Health Day (WOHD) is the largest global awareness campaign on oral health – demonstrating the importance of good oral hygiene and motivating people to take charge and action when it comes to their oral health. In South Africa, it’s frightening to note that over 60% of primary school children suffer from dental decay and more than 80% of these children remain untreated for the disease – pointing to the wider challenge of parents not staying on top of their children’s oral health.
It’s important for parents to instil life-long good oral habits in their kids while they’re still young.
Most parents brush their kids’ teeth while they are young and until they have developed their motor skills. But, demonstrating proper brushing techniques and making the process as fun and creative a possible is critical. Not only is it a good learning processes, it also gives you time to bond with your little one.
So, this World Oral Health Day, kick start an exciting path to lifelong health oral habits with these tips and tricks:
- Teach your child the importance of brushing and flossing their teeth from a young age. Dental care for children should start as soon as they start developing teeth.
- Get the right size toothbrush – a long handle may be needed if your child is a little reluctant to open his mouth wide – look for something fun and funky.
- Sing a song, tell a story or watch a movie/video to make tooth brushing fun – this also ensures that they brush for the recommended two minutes.
- Make sure that you know the right technique of tooth brushing because your child will follow your example.
- When they are younger, you can brush your child’s teeth by standing behind him or having him sit on your lap. As he gets older, he will naturally want to brush his teeth himself – just make sure he is doing it properly.
- Let your child stand on a step or stool to face the mirror and don’t forget to teach him to brush his tongue as well as it is a popular hiding place for bacteria.
- Stick to a routine – make sure your kids don’t miss their daily teeth brushing routine twice a day – in the morning and before bed.
- If your children are older than 6 years, an alcohol-free mouthwash can be used after they have brushed their teeth as it flushes out any additional bacteria.
- Make brushing fun again by using an electronic toothbrush as these are more effective at removing plaque and bacteria, and will protect your children’s gums from aggressive brushing.
- An annual dental check-up is essential – so make sure to find a dentist that they like. It should never be a dreaded visit.
*Article by Philips Oral Health
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day.