In honor of February serving as National Children’s Dental Health month, we wanted to provide parents with some tips on how they can help ensure their children have healthy teeth. Helping kids develop good dental care habits early is important in order to maintain that dental health throughout their lives.

Here are 7 simple steps parents can follow to help their kid’s smile shine.

1. Brush

Like adults, children should brush twice daily for two to three minutes, ideally early in the morning and before going to bed. Schedule your child’s nighttime brushing before they get too tired. If your child usually  nods off at 9:00, have them do their nightly brushing/flossing at 8:15 or 8:30. Children are always more cooperative before the Sandman comes knocking.

2. Flossing

Flossing should begin when two teeth touch each other. Have your dentist show you the right flossing technique and schedule.

3. Assist

Plan to help your children until they start first grade. Experts note that children often don’t have the fine motor skills to brush until about age 6 and they can’t floss capably until around age 10.

4. Motivation

Learn what motivates your child. Younger children may gladly brush for gold stars on a chart or stickers of their favorite TV characters. Remember though, offering treats like cookies or candy would be counterproductive.

5. Establish Habits

Involve your child with their dental habits in an age-appropriate manner. For instance, a younger child may want to pick their own toothpaste from options you approve. Same with toothbrushes. You may offer them a choice of toothbrushes that are decorated with their favorite cartoon character, are brightly colored or has their favorite color.

6. Mouthwash

Ask your dentist how early your child can begin using mouthwash. As a rule, rinsing isn’t advised until the child knows to spit the mouth rinse out.

7. Set the Example

Set a good example yourself by brushing daily and flossing regularly.