The condition of our gums, teeth, tongue and the entire mouth is usually referred to as oral health and the state of these parts of the oral system has a huge effect on our general state of health, which is why it is of great importance that these parts are well cared for and the benefits of the care given to these parts should never be underestimated.
Since oral health is an essential aspect of health, we parents and guardians must make positive efforts toward helping our children learn the appropriate way to care for their oral system and start it early. A lot of things we do consciously and unconsciously as caregivers at the early stage in our children’s lives are what they learn which will, later on, become a habit for them.
This article aims to awaken parents, guardians and other caregivers’ consciousness of the different ways we influence our children’s oral care habits.
Oral care Habits
Habits are a form of a continuous outward display of the decisions we have made about certain issues. These decisions are made based on the information we have gathered about the said issue and the same goes for oral care. In other words, oral care habits are the manner we continuously care for our oral system. For it to be a habit, it has to be done continuously. How the teeth are brushed, what the teeth are brushed with, other activities the teeth are used for(like opening bottles), and the next step when there is a teeth problem. All these and more make up our oral care habits.
It is however important for parents, guardians and caregivers that we ensure we help our children nurture healthy oral care habits during their early years, this will not only help them ensure healthy oral health but will also contribute to their overall body health.
How to nurture healthy oral care habits in children.
The first step to nurturing healthy oral care habits in children is for the parent/guardian to be intentional and aware of their role in influencing their child(ren) habits. Our being intentional and aware of the huge role we play in influencing our children will help us become more conscious of our actions around them, how often we brush our teeth and theirs, how we use our teeth i.e do we use them to open bottles or other things that could damage the teeth? When they complain of problems with their teeth, do we take them to the dentist or do we seek other unprofessional solutions?. All these actions are the different ways our children gather information and these form the basis of their habits i.e they tend to form their habits based on what they see regularly in their environment.
Another factor to help nurture healthy oral care habits in our children is to start early. For all the habits we hope our children cultivate, we must introduce them to them at an early stage. Oral care routines can start as early as infancy, brush their teeth twice daily, visit the dentists when there is a need to, avoid using the teeth for activities that could damage the teeth, and so on. The reason for this is that several children-based psychological studies have confirmed that most children already form most of their habits by the age of nine, introducing basic body care to them at any age after the age of nine might be a huge struggle for the child and the parent as well and we do not want that. That’s why we encourage our parents to start early teaching children the oral care habits so that before they get to their adolescent age, these habits will already become a part of them.
Another factor that would be of great help to parents is getting their children dental care resources, let’s get the resources that teach children about dental care, it could be videos on YouTube, books, or flashcards like our Healthy Affirmations for Children flashcards, it’s a great resource for nurturing healthy habits in children. If you would like to get one, send me an email at @email@example.com and we shall take it from there. All these resources not only teach them about dental care but also improve their literacy and communication skills and their ability to learn independently.
The last factor to be discussed is consistency. Yes, we as parents are intentional and have become aware of our roles in our children’s lives. We have started teaching them early, however, we need to be consistent with our teaching. Consistency here means the information we teach to them and our actions regarding how oral care should be done has to be the same and done often. Telling our children to do the right thing and we do the opposite, not being regular with our oral care routines like morning and night brushing, and not exposing them often to oral care information are some of the ways parents can become inconsistent.
We owe our children the responsibility to care for them and help them nurture the necessary oral care habits they need to guarantee a healthy lifestyle, though starting early will have been the best, it is never too late to start if our children have passed the early stage. The most important thing Is that we become aware of and accept our responsibilities, and then we take positive actions toward nurturing these healthy habits. This will not only make you fulfilled as a parent but will also increase your child(ren) confidence that you are truly looking out for their well being.
I trust you find this piece beneficial if you do, let’s say hear what you have to say in the comments and do share the link with your parent’s friends and parents to be.