This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the American Dental Association.
Babies are born with teeth under their gums, so oral health is important from the start! The American Dental Association (ADA) reminds us that healthy teeth habits occur throughout the day. National Children’s Dental Health Month is the perfect time to check in and evaluate how we’re implementing oral health routines for our kids.
Oral health begins at birth, but what can you do if dental hygiene is challenging for your child? Don’t despair. Many children experience similar challenges when it comes to autism and oral health. While it can be difficult to implement a routine, it’s important because baby teeth are just as important to care for as adult teeth. Here are 11 tips for success based on methods we have tried with our two children on the spectrum:
Choice equals control. Maintain parental control over the process by carefully crafting your questions (i.e. “Do you want to use the toothbrush or the mouthwash first?”)
When you approach this routine without any expectations, both you and your child will experience less stress!
Create a game
Perhaps their favorite toy dump truck delivers the toothpaste, or their beloved doll has a toothbrush of her own. Creativity is a wonderful redirection method and can help alleviate your child’s anxiety.
Relate brushing to a favorite interest
Does your child enjoy trains? When you brush, it kind of sounds like a train. Can you make the train speed up or slow down with your toothbrush? “Chugga, chugga, chugga!”
Sing a song
Create your own or sing a favorite. Designating a song can mentally prepare your child for this daily routine.
Have a dance party
Play your child’s favorite song and sway to the music while brushing!
Swish out the germies
When it’s time to use mouthwash, try making a fun song and dance out of it. My kids find it hilarious when we shake our booties, so our mouthwash song is, “Swish swish swish, swish swish swish, goodbye germies!”
First it’s your turn, and then it’s my turn. This method practices turn-taking while ensuring that your child’s teeth are clean.
Do the routine together
Behavior modeling is a powerful teaching method. Did you know that when two teeth touch, it’s time to start flossing? Try cleaning between your teeth at the same time your child flosses his own.
Some kids with sensory challenges find dental care difficult and understandably so – the mouth is one of the most sensitive areas of the body! We help our kids with their oral tactile defensiveness by brushing our fingers along their gums, gently massaging their cheeks, blowing raspberries, and tapping items to their mouths and cheeks. For example, tapping the bristles of a toothbrush to the lips will provide a different sensation than tapping the back of the toothbrush. With time and patience, progress in this area is possible!
Consult an ADA Pediatric Dentist
Finding a dentist trained in pediatric dentistry has been invaluable for our kids’ oral health. She is familiar with their special needs and works to develop a trusting, positive relationship with them. Despite their oral sensitivities, both of our children enjoy their dental visits! Use ADA’s Find a Dentist feature to find one near you. A child’s first dental visit should be no later than their first birthday or when their first tooth arrives!
Teaching our kids positive oral health habits starts with us. Let your child see you brush and floss to give them visual learning cues. Look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance to provide your kids with oral health products that meet the stringent standards and found to be safe and effective. Work with your child to find the approach that makes them feel most comfortable!
What methods do you use to make oral health fun for your kids? To find more information on oral health and National Children’s Dental Health Month, click here.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of American Dental Association.