Good dental habits, when learned young, serve a person throughout their entire life. They can help a person avoid both dental and other health issues in the future. These habits are forged most strongly when young, which is why it is important to get your toddler or preschooler into the habit of good dental hygiene to ensure they have a foundation that will last a lifetime. The following tips will help.
Tip #1: Schedule Family Brushing Time
Modeling good dental habits is one key to helping your child develop their own. Plan to brush together every morning and evening. With a young toddler, simply supply them with a brush with no toothpaste or just a barely-there dab. Then, prepare your own brush and wiggle, dance, and brush together. Once you are done, take your child's brush, add a bit more paste, and finish brushing their teeth to ensure all surfaces are reached. As they get older and more adept at brushing, you won't need to help them anymore.
Tip #2: Choose the Right Tools
A young child's toothbrush needs to be sized for both their mouth and their hand. Avoid large adult brushes and pick a brush specifically made for young children. Soft bristles are also important. Hard bristles can cut the gums or even cause permanent gum damage. You can pick out a brush with your child's favorite character on it, or even a brush that makes music for a specified length of brushing time. When the music stops, they are done brushing.
Tip #3: Provide Some Options
Toddlers, especially, can be prone to refusal as they begin to test their independence. One way to avoid an outright refusal to brush is to give your child some control over the process. This can be as simple as always having two toothbrushes in rotation. Giving your child the choice of which toothbrush to use each morning and evening will help them feel in control, which will make them more apt to be cooperative when it comes time to brush.
Tip #4: Make the Dentist Exciting
The final goal is to make sure your child looks forward to dental visits without fear. One way to do this is to playact being the dentist and the patient with your child in the days leading up to the visit so they'll know what to expect. You can even incorporate the game into tooth brushing time using your toothbrushes and a dental mirror from the drug store. When it's time to go to the dentist, make sure to model excited and happy behavior—avoid showing any nervousness or apprehension, since your child can pick up on your mood easily.
Look for dental exams by Dr J E Michelsons or another family dentist in your area for more ideas.