Teaching kids the importance of brushing their teeth is one thing and getting them to follow through with regularly brushing is another. The key is to start a consistent routine at an early age and to keep it fun.
Toddler Teeth Brushing
Creating a fun teeth brushing routine for toddlers is easier than waiting until they are older. Here are some tips to help create positive brushing habits.
Go Shopping Together
Have your child pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste. Kids often become enchanted with popular characters, and having dental gear featuring their favorite friend is encouraging.
Discuss with them ahead of time why we need to brush our teeth, and set a day to go shopping. Remind them daily of the upcoming shopping trip, and keep them excited about it. When they get back home with their very own toothbrush and toothpaste they chose, they will feel proud of their purchase and be excited to use the new items.
Boogie While Brushing
Turn brush time into a mini dance party, playing a favorite song while they brush their teeth. You can even make up a special tooth brushing dance – the sillier, the better.
Brush With Buddies
Brush your teeth with your child, or make it a family affair that lets everyone brush together. They may also be interested in brushing the teeth of their favorite toy. This helps enforce that everyone needs to brush their teeth to have healthy smiles.
There are videos online that let your child brush their teeth with beloved characters like Elmo and Dora. Here are a few tooth brushing videos recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA).
Tips For Getting Older Kids To Brush
Older kids are far less interested in good dental hygiene and oral health. An electric toothbrush with a full two minute timer can help keep them on track, and you may consider creating a reward system.
Think about what motivates your child and set goals that are easy to remember and don’t feel out of reach. Offering rewards for brushing teeth is a great way to encourage healthy teeth brushing habits.
Set repeated teeth brushing alarms twice a day to create a regular routine. Stick to these times as closely as possible every day, and after they brush give them a small reward. This can be something simple like five extra minutes of screen time or an extra 15 minutes before having to go to bed.
This method is more convenient for children who have scheduled activities. If they successfully brush on time every morning and evening, that evening they can have a slightly bigger reward that counts for both brushing sessions.
You can also set longer range goals based on weekly stretches. For instance, if they successfully brush their teeth every day at the times you set, without being told or reminded, at the end of the week they may be allowed to play a game they love or have something they have been wanting.
The key is to work with your child’s preferences and expectations, creating a reward system that sets them up for success.
If you have questions or would like more ideas about how to make brushing fun, talk to your pediatric dentist about your child’s oral hygiene routine and overall dental care.