Guide your kids to brush their teeth independently

Parenting challenges include patience as our children learn to care properly for themselves. There is a significant gap, for example, between kids who would really like to do various tasks independently, and the number of parents willing to let them do so, according to research by Philips Sonicare.

Their research shows that 49 per cent of children (aged three to 12) are adamant about brushing their own teeth without adult supervision. However, almost one-third of parents say they are not satisfied their children are brushing properly when unsupervised.

Furthermore, dental decay is the most common infectious disease of childhood, causing pain, absence from school, and social stigma.

Dental professional Jo-Anne Jones addresses the concerns parents have with their kids.

5 top tips to protect your child’s smile

To keep cavities away throughout the candy rush and all year long, here are five simple tips that will ensure your child’s smile is protected:

1. Limit the number of times a day your child eats sugary treats or snacks between meals. Serve snacks that will not harm their teeth, such as vegetables, cheese, nuts or seeds.

2. It is best to eat sugary treats at the end of mealtime while there is still plenty of saliva in the mouth. Saliva or a glass of water helps to wash away some of the sugars and acids.

3. Keep treats with the parents instead of with children. It can be easier to control when they eat it and how much they can have per day.

4. Avoid soft, sticky treats that get stuck between teeth.

5. Always get your child to brush and floss before going to bed – and incentives help.

“Teaching children to take care of themselves can be a challenge, especially for parents who are hesitant to give up some control to their youngster,” she says.

Jones recommends three tips to help parents feel more comfortable about giving their kids more control when brushing their teeth:

1. Start with the proper tools, especially those that attract a child’s attention. The new Sonicare for Kids, for example, is a rechargeable power toothbrush for little ones over four. It is designed to encourage healthy brushing habits, even when kids are brushing on their own. And, a new free app called Brush Busters does the same by giving them fun storylines, characters and rewards for the full two-minutes of recommended brushing

2. Lead by example. Your kids will have a better idea of brushing expectations if you are following them as well. That means ideally brushing for two minutes at least twice a day, cleaning in between the teeth daily and making regular visits to your dental professional.

3. Reinforce good behaviour. After a positive trip to the dental office, reward your child with praise for their ability to take care of themselves properly.

Parents will always worry about their kids, but with the right approach and strategy, brushing teeth becomes one less thing to worry about.