It’s not always easy to get your kids to brush their teeth regularly. Until children reach the more mature age of about seven or eight years old, you may be constantly persuading (or nagging) them to routinely brush their teeth. The American Dental Association has declared February National Children’s Dental Health Month, reminding parents everywhere the importance of educating our kids about proper dental care. At WinningSmiles in Fontana we recommend the following 8 fun, encouraging ways to keep your children’s pearly whites healthy and make dental health fun:
1. Brush to a song
Since brushing your teeth should last about two to three minutes of thorough cleaning, encourage your kids to pick out their favorite song to listen to while brushing for the entire length of the song. This can be a distraction, but it can also be a great way to keep track of time and keep them motivated.
2. Turn teeth brushing into a group activity
At an early age, the saying, “monkey see, monkey do” is still a very real concept. Brushing your teeth together with your child, in stages, offers guidance and encourages good brushing habits. Follow the right teeth brushing routine with your child every night until your child can do it by themselves. You can make this process more fun by making silly faces, naming each tooth as you attend to it (to encourage that every tooth is brushed), and even switch roles, letting your child take the lead.
3. Create a reward chart or system
Children are highly motivated when they know they get recognized for their efforts. To reward your child for doing well, you can create a sticker chart or present a weekly prize, helping them stay on top of their daily brushing routines. This helps your child keep up good brushing behavior.
4. Let your child pick their own toothbrush and toothpaste
Brushing may be more enjoying to children if they have a more active role in picking out their own brushes and toothpastes. Bright colors, characters, or different flavors can create a more appealing side to dental care.
5. Explain the importance of each step
When teaching your child the right steps, try to explain the importance of each step. This includes brushing the surfaces of all teeth, angling the toothbrush at 45 degrees towards the gum line, and brushing in a circular motion. You can make this a fun experience by creating a funny rhyme or telling a funny anecdotal story that goes along with each step.
6. Try baby-sized flossers
Flossing can be a pain, literally, for children with small gaps in between their teeth. To make flossing a more pleasant experience, try baby-sized flossers, which are sold in most supermarkets. Reinforce good habits with praise and supervision, since incorrect flossing may cause gum inflammation and bleeding.
7. Personifying plaque
Plaque causes cavities, leading to gum disease, which is a concept that can be creatively explained to your kids. Personifying plaque as the “plaque monsters” or “bad guys” (or any other name that will give plaque a villainous image,) might be an effective method to motivate your kids to brush properly.
8. Consider electric toothbrushes
Nowadays, electric toothbrushes can do anything: shake, play music, pulsate, rotate in many directions, and appeal to young children. Electric toothbrushes create a more stimulating experience, appealing to more than one sense, keeping your kids entertained while brushing. Some studies show that electric brushes are equally as effective, if not more effective in removing plaque, when used right.