Sometimes getting kids to take care of their teeth can be a real struggle. Could a video game change that? One study recently discussed in Trials seeks to find out if this particular tech route might be effective.
Providing children with oral health education through a potentially interesting method, such as video games, might provide them with a positive media influence. In addition, parents are indeed going to be part of the intervention in this study, as they will be required to guide the child through the game. Moreover, parents might learn indirectly, as some evidence suggests that children can transmit knowledge to their parents.
Of course, there are already a lot of tech-driven products out there, aiming to make hygiene more fun for kids as they also teach them how to clean their teeth effectively (this and this, to take just a couple examples). Popular children’s media such as Sesame Street also regularly promote good hygiene in kid-friendly ways.
And of course there are plenty of websites out there like Mouth Healthy Kids and My Smile Kids that provide videos, games and other activities to help children learn about their teeth (though usually from a non-holistic perspective, unfortunately).
But not everything has to be tech- or media-driven. Incorporating games, stories, songs or other fun while your child brushes can do wonders. The key is to get children excited about and involved with their own health. No one tactic works for every kid. Try different things until you find what works.
Then make sure the fun translates into action. Modeling good habits yourself and answering your child’s questions are great steps towards ensuring your child understands.
Do keep in mind, though, that although your child can begin learning to brush on their own by the age of 3, most kids don’t develop enough coordination to do so effectively until the age of 6 or even 7 – about the same age at which they can begin learning to floss, as well. Until then, you’ll likely need to help them along, to make sure they clean all the surfaces of their teeth (and floss for them until they’re old enough to do it on their own).
Ideally, instilling good hygiene practices starts even earlier than that, with their first visit to the dentist. This should happen once the first tooth erupts or the child’s first birthday. Seeing your child at such a young age, we can keep better track of their dental and orofacial development, catching any problems before they become big problems. But this early visit can also help lessen childhood fear of the dentist. Too often, children aren’t taken to the dentist until something’s gone wrong. By going early and often – before there are problems – you make these visits seem common, no big deal.
As soon as your child is old enough, we’ll also talk with them about things like good hygiene and healthy eating for healthy teeth. Encourage your child to ask questions, too!
And just as for adults, 6 month return visits – for thorough cleanings and exams – are the norm, though frequency can differ depending on individual situations.
Get your child engaged in their own health early. Help them create lifelong healthy habits and avoid dental decay or discomfort. No age is too early, so why not start the conversation and the fun today?
Image by Patrick