5 Ways to Reward Good Oral Hygiene
Many parents might remember those potty training days when you bribed your toddler to get the job done. I know my nieces and nephews came out ahead on some of those deals. Well, you can do the same to encourage your child to adopt good oral health habits. And for those of you who are uncomfortable with the thought of bribing your children – perhaps incentive is a better word.
1. Make brushing fun. Create a chart with stickers to reward your child every time they brush their teeth properly. Hang it in a visible area in the child’s room or bathroom so they can see their progress.
2. Give your child a new doll or stuffed animal to have as a dental buddy. Have your child practice brushing on their doll or stuffed animal before they brush theirs. Remember to routinely give them the opportunity to brush their own teeth and then follow up by brushing their teeth correctly. For a primer on how to brush teeth properly, go here.
3. Reward your child with Xylitol, a chewing gum with a sweetener derived from the bark of birch trees. Because bacteria in the mouth aren’t able to digest xylitol, this sweetener inhibits the growth of these microorganisms and reduces the production of destructive acids that contribute to tooth decay. You can buy both the gum and xylitol candy, which also shows promise for reducing bacteria, from several Web sites – such as www.xylipro.com, www.xylitol.org, and www.epicdental.com, or directly from some dentists’ offices.
4. Let your child pick out a colorful toothbrush at the store. Many brushes are designed with kids in mind and their handles are made of special characters that kids love. At bedtime, allow your child to brush your teeth. Have fun with that and then allow them to brush their teeth. Finish the session by brushing your child's teeth. Just be sure to avoid sharing brushes. You don’t want to spread the bacteria in your mouths to each other.
5. Praise their efforts! Every child wants an extra hug from mom and dad for a job well done. And if all else fails, a few extra coins in your child’s piggy bank might help too. You can say they came from the Tooth Fairy.