Getting kids to brush their teeth can be a struggle. It’s a common frustration for parents. Yet we know that the earlier you can get your kids into a good dental care routine, the more likely they are to make it their own.
So what can you do? Sometimes simply trying a different approach can make all the difference. With a little thought and creativity, you can turn what used to be an uphill battle, into a fun family activity. Here are a few ideas:
Introduce your kids to dental subjects by sharing books and videos on the subject. Your interest will help spark theirs. It is also a chance for them to ask questions, and for you to help calm any fears they may have about their teeth or dentists. You can also play tooth-brushing games at home and online.
Most kids get excited about being able to choose their own toothbrush and toothpaste. They are also more likely to want to use it. These days there is a wide range of colors and character-themed toothbrushes, as well as a number of flavored toothpastes available. Just remember to keep the toothbrush soft-bristled and the toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association (A.D.A.).
Kids love to mimic their parents, so you can actually make brushing more fun simply by doing it together. Plus, seeing that it is important to you will automatically make it more important to them. It’s also a great way to model proper technique for your child. Not sure when to start flossing for your child? Read the article When Should Your Child Start Flossing?
You can make funny faces, have a contest, play music when you’re brushing. Anything you can think of to make it more fun—and keep them brushing—could help.
Using a timer – maybe a sand-timer from one of your child’s games – can help make tooth care a little more fun. Take turns resetting the timer for as long as is needed. You could also time yourselves with a song. Find a fun song that your child likes and play it while you brush; just be sure it lasts for about two minutes.
If you soak a hard-boiled egg in vinegar, the shell softens after a couple of days. Use this experiment to explain how sugar and food eat away at tooth enamel. Or poke a hole in an apple and let it sit for a few days. Use the apple to explain how cavities start and grow without proper attention.
You might be surprised at how much a little sticker can do. Simply putting a poster or picture on the wall, maybe in a fun tooth shape, and adding stickers to it for each completed brushing or flossing, can get kids motivated to earn more!
Getting kids to do anything healthy can be a challenge. But by using little tricks like a kid’s toothbrush in a favorite color, or toothpaste for kids that tastes like watermelon, you may get a little more cooperation and enthusiasm. Another key to preventing dental problems? Avoiding anything sugary to help keep teeth cavity-free. But don’t be fooled by some of the foods that sound healthy really aren’t. Read more in So-called “Healthy” Foods That Have More Sugar Than a Donut.
While brushing and flossing will never be a favorite activity, by applying a little creativity, you can help your child develop and keep this healthy habit.