Make teeth brushing a healthy habit for your children.
Your children might be little, but it’s never too early to teach them the importance of a great dental care routine. This includes brushing and flossing their teeth twice per day, along with eating healthy foods and staying up to date on their visits to the dentist.
Of course, your kiddos are likely focused on a million other things besides perfecting their brushing skills. There are superheroes to imitate, cartoons to watch, and pillow forts to build. They may be a challenging audience, but you’re up to the task!
Wondering how to encourage this habit and help it stick? As your trusted kids’ dentist, we’re here to share 8 helpful ways you can show your brood that brushing their teeth isn’t just important, it can also be fun!
1. Brushing Their Teeth to a Song
You don’t have to suds up in silence! Encourage your child to brush their teeth while playing a favorite song, even if it’s the same one you’ve heard Alexa play all day long.
You can also download a digital brush timer set to music, such as the Disney Magic Timer by Oral-B. According to the Apple App Store, 90% of kids surveyed brushed for a longer period of time when this app was playing.
2. Lead by Example
We don’t have to tell you that your children love to mimic every little thing you do. Sometimes, it’s absolutely precious. Other times, it’s mortifying.
However, you can use their innocent tendency to emulate to your advantage. Let them “catch” you brushing your teeth in the morning and evening. Then, explain to them why this step is so important and how much you enjoy it.
You can even take turns brushing each other’s teeth, giving them extra time to scrub yours clean. Later on, let them eavesdrop while you make appointments with the family dentist. You may be amazed at how much weight your example holds.
No, you don’t have to go out and buy your daughter a new doll every time she remembers to brush twice a day. Yet, research shows that kids are highly motivated by even the smallest rewards.
Wondering how to get kids to brush their teeth? Start by creating a sticker chart. Add a new sticker for every day that they stick to their dental routine. At the end of the month, reward them with something small, such as allowing them to pick the flick for family movie night.
If you need a little inspiration, here’s a list of free or low-cost reward ideas that kids love. As your children begin to notice their healthy teeth and gums, they’ll start to become intrinsically motivated to keep up the good work, and you can slowly phase out the extrinsic incentives.
4. Brushing Your Teeth With Them
Nothing makes a child feel more like a grown-up than pulling up a stool and spending time together at the bathroom sink. Set a designated time at morning and night, and brush alongside one another.
Especially if your child is still very young, you’ll need to be on hand anyway to brush their teeth yourself. However, even if they’re a little bigger, they’ll still appreciate the one-on-one time and the memories you create.
5. Let Them Choose a Fun Toothbrush
There will be plenty of time for plain, solid-colored toothbrushes when they’re grown! For now, let your children run wild with their imagination and pick out the brightest, shiniest, loudest toothbrush on the aisle.
Today, you can even find ones that include little countdown lights that turn bright green in the beginning, yellow in the middle, and red when the designated two minutes are up. Resist the urge to stifle their creativity and instead, praise their unique choices. They’ll be more likely to use their toothbrush on a regular basis if it appeals to them visually.
6. Brushing Their Teeth Along With Stuffed Friends
Does your child have a beloved teddy bear? What about a glittery unicorn? Invite them to join your toothbrushing party so they can see for themselves what all the fun is about.
Encourage your child to practice their brushing techniques on their stuffed pals. Not only is this silly fun, but it’s a good way to make sure they know all of the right steps to follow.
7. Turn It Into a Story
There’s a reason why kids are so naturally drawn to fairytales. They’re magical, imaginative, and creative—just like them! Why not tell one of your own to help them remember to brush?
Could there be a maiden waiting behind their molars, looking for someone to come rescue her? Her knight will have to travel across and between every tooth to get there, but when he does, they can live happily ever after.
Feel free to get as funny or nonsensical as you need to, here. You aren’t vying for the Pulitzer Prize, but you do need to make the tale entertaining enough that your child cares about the outcome. You can even play the role of a friendly dentist.
8. Use Age-appropriate Tools for Brushing Teeth
When you’re setting your child up with the toothbrush and floss they need, make sure that everything is child-sized. A too-big brush can be bulky and difficult to grab. It also can’t clean around their little teeth as thoroughly as a smaller one can.
One experience trying to wield those cumbersome items, and your tot won’t want to pick them up again. When they’re just the right proportions, however, they’ll be excited about using them.
The same goes for any other dental tool you purchase for your little ones. Steer clear of sharp-edged flossers and opt for power toothbrushes if your children lack the dexterity to effectively use a manual one.
Your Local Kids’ Dentist: Building Healthy Pint-Sized Habits
Have you ever heard the expression that children are like little sponges? They’re constantly absorbing and retaining everything they see and experience.
As a parent, you play a very important role in helping them set healthy habits at a young age. In our experience as a kids’ dentist, we cannot stress enough how valuable this early involvement is in setting the stage for a firm dental foundation.
In addition to developing great brushing habits, we also encourage you to schedule routine preventative care services for your kids. These visits help our dentist clean their teeth, check their mouth and ensure they have healthy gums.