You are a parent concerned with your kids dental health, you have more in common with your Tampa dentist than you think. Many moms and dads—even Tampa dentists—struggle to keep their children’s mouths and teeth clean. Dr. Tindell is a father of two– ages 33, 37. “As you can imagine, there can be a wide range of behavior on who wants to brush and who doesn’t in our house,” he says. “I’m not just a Tampa dentist, I’m their dad, so making sure they’re establishing good habits early on is important to me.”

To keep your family’s smiles strong, try some of tricks of the trade from dentist moms and dads:

Launch a Family Fun Routine 

Growing up in Dr. Tindell’s house, there was one guideline that everyone followed: “You have to brush before bed, and you mustn’t leave in the morning until you brush,” he says. “The critical thing is making sure your kids are effectively brushing for at least 2 minutes, twice a day.”

Young kids love to emulate their parents, take this occasion to lead by example. “One thing I did with my kids was make it into a game, kind of like monkey-see, monkey-do. We all have our toothbrushes, and they reproduce what we do,” he says. “When I open my mouth, they do it as well. I begin brushing my front teeth, they start brushing their front teeth, I rinse and spit so do they. It’s just a fun way to teach them how to brush properly, and we get family time.”

Making oral hygiene a family matter also helps you keep an eye out for beneficial behaviors. “Kids want to do everything themselves, especially with the amount of toothpaste, so you have to watch to make sure they’re not using more than they should – a pea-sized drop for children two and under and a little larger for kids 3 and up,” he says. “You should do a quick final check for food in their mouth when brush time is done.”

Attempt a Fresh Approach

When his daughter was only 6 months old, North Pointe Dental Associates dentist Dr. Ron Pross asked his wife to hold her while he brushed or brushed when his child was laying down. “You can view their teeth from front to back the clearest in that position, “he says.

If your child is patient enough to stand and desires to brush on their own, Dr. Pross suggests a different method. “Stand behind your child and have him look up at you,” he says. “This triggers the mouth to open and helps you to allow them brush more effortlessly.”

Older Kids, Advanced Challenges 

Checking on your child’s day-to-day hygiene habits doesn’t end as they get mature. It’s harder when they get their driver’s license, says Dr. Richard Kanter. “The new drivers can drive through any fast food spot for the kinds of food and beverages that they can’t find in a health-minded home,” he says. They don’t have a nightly routine, so they may be more likely to go to bed without brushing.”

While your kids are still living at home, check in on their oral hygiene and discuss healthful eating, especially when it comes to sugary beverages that are acidic. After they leave home, encourage positive dental habits through mailing care packages with dental products like toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss. When they are home for a visit, make sure they get to their dentist for a checkup. If school break doesn’t allow for a trip home – locate a dentist near campus so they are able to keep up with their regular good dental habits.