Oral health is important because it “affects so many different things,” stresses Scottsdale pediatric dentist Timothy R. Wilson, D.D.S., president of the Arizona Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
“If you have a toothache in class, you can’t concentrate,” says Wilson, who practices with Affiliated Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics in Scottsdale. “You can’t eat fruits or veggies. It affects bones, muscles and learning.”
Motivating your children to brush properly starts early: it’s important to get your child used to brushing before they do it independently, Wilson said.
“Anything you can do to make brushing as fun as possible is important,” Wilson said. “I have two kids and for my older daughter we sang songs while we brushed. My son doesn’t like singing, so we count while we brush.”
Complimenting your child on their brushing or providing a special toothbrush can help make the process fun for kids, too.
For children who are 2 or 3 years old and “think they can do everything themselves,” parents can capitalize on that independence to help their kid brush on their own, Wilson said.
Once your child turns 8, you can “release the reins” and let them brush independently. It is still important, though, to check their brushing habits because “they brush for one second, or one-and-a-half if you’re lucky.”
Arizona has a particularly dismal track record for pediatric oral health. Forty-nine percent of children have untreated tooth decay by age 4, in contrast to the national average of 16 percent, according to a Delta Dental spokeswoman. Additionally, 31 percent of Arizona children have never had a dental check-up.
Parents can visit deltadentalaz.com to discover more tips on making brushing fun and improving your child’s oral health.