Start EarlyThe key to lasting habits is starting as early as possible. Even before your baby's first tooth appears, you can gently clean his gums with a soft cloth or a piece of soft gauze. Once the first tooth appears, generally around six months, you can start brushing with a small, soft toothbrush and non-fluoride toothpaste.
Speaking of the first tooth appearing, this is also a great time to take your child to the dentist for the first time. Many children are anxious about visiting the dentist, so starting before your child's first birthday can help get him used to it early.
Make It FunAs your child gets a little older, finding ways to make dental care fun can go a long way toward helping to create lasting habits. Themed toothbrushes, flavored toothpastes, and fun handheld flossers can all help, and you can also create rituals of brushing your teeth together with your child. Be creative and think of some fun games to play, such as seeing who can spit closest to the drain.
Reward Good HabitsIt's important to also reinforce good habits with praise and rewards. One way is to have your child show you their clean teeth so that you can tell them they've done a good job. If you want more of a reward system in place, create a chart to hang on the bathroom wall and dole out stickers or gold stars for brushing and flossing on a regular schedule.
Encourage Age-Appropriate IndependenceOf course, one of the hallmarks of the Montessori method is encouraging independence in children, so we'd be remiss if we didn't mention how you can encourage children to manage their own dental care. Many preschoolers love to attempt to brush their own teeth, even if you have to finish up the job. Set a timer or buy a lighted toothbrush to help kids know how long they need to brush. Electric toothbrushes and handheld flossers can make the job easier as well. Once kids get old enough to spit, they can graduate to fluoride toothpaste.
How Montessori Teaches Good Habits
Because the Montessori method values children's independence and promotes self-directed behaviors, it provides an excellent framework for learning all kinds of habits, including dental habits. The Montessori School of Flagstaff Sunnyside Campus works with students to encourage hands-on learning, including those skills that are learned both at home and at school. For more information on our program, please contact us today for a tour of our school.