To protect your child’s dental health now and well into the future, it’s important to establish good brushing habits as early as possible. Here are some ways you can make brushing more fun for your kids.
What Happens When Kids Don’t Brush Their Teeth
Kids who don’t brush their teeth inevitably end up with dental decay. They are also at a higher risk of periodontal disease and tooth loss down the road. Since baby teeth are important placeholders for adult teeth, children need to keep them clean to prevent premature tooth loss. In most cases, childhood cavities can be prevented with consistent brushing, flouride treatments and sealants.
How to Get into a Habit of Brushing Your Teeth
Most of us have little trouble remembering to brush our teeth because it’s become such a habit. This didn’t just happen overnight; we’ve spent years doing the same activity at about the same time two times every day. To get kids brushing their teeth consistently, you need to create good habits. This means ensuring that they brush their teeth at about the same time every morning and every night.
How to Get Kids to Brush Teeth
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy for parents to get their kids to brush, especially when they are very young. Many parents have success when they try one or more of the following tricks:
This silly game is a great way to get your kids to embrace brushing. Start by telling your young child it’s time to brush, but surprise him or her by pretending to brush in all the wrong spots. This includes the ears, toes, elbows and nose. Keep going until the child takes charge and instructs you on how it should really be done.
Turn the tables by picking up your toothbrush and refusing to clean your teeth. You could say, “I don’t want to brush my teeth and I hope there aren’t any dentists here who will make me!” Then, give your child a playful look as an invitation to play the role of a dentist. This will give him or her a chance to explain why and how to brush your teeth.
You can inspire laughter and good brushing habits by pretending to brush the mouths of your child’s stuffed animals. Be sure to include a lot of funny responses, as the grumpy toys complain, spit and try to push the toothbrush away. This will add a playful element to the brushing experience and give your child a chance to play grown-up to his or her stuffies. It will also give you an opportunity to show them the best way to brush teeth.
Let them show you
Examine your child’s toothbrush with a puzzled look and ask “What is this thing?” Is it an itsy-bitsy eyebrow brush? A shoe scrubber? A tool for cleaning between toes? Continue contemplating ridiculous uses for the toothbrush until your child finally stops laughing and shows you the correct way to use the mysterious utensil.
Hunt sugar bugs
Give your child a mission to hunt the “germies” or sugar bugs that have invaded his or her mouth. Play inspiring music and narrate the events as if it were a real-life movie.
Tell a story
Create a fanciful tale starring your child’s toothbrush. Give it a name, a voice and sidekicks, such as floss, toothpaste and mouthwash. Include a humorous storyline complete with villains, action and unique themes. Focus on the things your child likes most, whether that’s princesses, superpowers or outer space.
Have your child mimic your toothbrushing technique but keep him or her engaged by adding a few silly tricks. Brush your lips with the back of your toothbrush; blow on the bristles; or, argue with the brush for not doing a good enough job. Use your imagination to come up with all sorts of silliness to make brushing a fun experience.
Play a song
According to the American Dental Association, it’s important to brush for at least two minutes to eliminate plaque and prevent gum disease. To keep kids from rushing, play a fun song that lasts about two minutes. Keep things fun by encouraging them to dance a bit while they brush.
When to Start Brushing Baby Teeth
Dentists recommend that parents begin brushing their children’s teeth as soon as they erupt. The moment your child’s first tooth appears, it is going to be vulnerable to cavity-causing bacteria. Gently brush it clean twice daily using only a tiny amount of toothpaste.
How Long Should Kids Brush Their Teeth for
Just like adults, children should brush their teeth for about two minutes. This is about the duration of the happy birthday song. With this in mind, you can encourage your kids to hum the song to themselves while they brush their teeth.
In addition to encouraging good brushing habits, it’s important to take your child for regular checkups with your local dentist to check for potential issues and make sure their teeth and oral structures are developing normally.
Two smiles, one-stop. Celebrate Children’s Dental Health Month by booking your child’s next dental appointment at a Gentle Dental location near you.