Most of us know that brushing our teeth is important. However, if you have small children, you also know how difficult it is to get your children to brush their teeth regularly (let alone brush thoroughly). As such, to kick off the new year, today we’ll discuss 8 ways to encourage good teeth brushing habits with your children.
1. Be a Good Role Model
Children are little sponges. They soak up everything around them and tend to repeat whatever behavior they see regularly. Therefore, if you want your kids to do a better job of brushing their teeth, you should make sure that they are watching you model the behavior. You can even turn your oral care routine into a family event. Have your child(ren) brush alongside you. Show them that not only is brushing an important part of your day but that it can be fun! As an added benefit, by having your children brush with you, you can guarantee that they’ll brush for the recommended duration (2 minutes, twice a day) of time.
2. Practice Brushing Early
Building on the previous point, you can start including your children in your oral care routine even before they can brush on their own. Brushing time is brushing time, no matter who is doing the actual brushing. For that matter, your kids can even bring in their favorite toy or dolly and brush their teeth. The point is to create a habit that is so ingrained that to not brush their teeth will seem absurd.
3. Reward Good Behavior
Kids always respond well to positive reinforcement. For some, it’s as simple as receiving a high five or doing a silly dance. For others, it means receiving a prize. If the latter describes your children, you should try using a reward chart.
Reward charts are great incentives for children to learn new skills. Parents often use them to reward potty training efforts, so why couldn’t you use them to reward effective teeth brushing. We find that the best way to use them is to post a brushing calendar in the bathroom. Use either stickers or a marker to cross off each time they brush their teeth for a full 2 minutes. Then, at the end of each week, reward your child with either a small treat of your choice.
4. Post a Schedule
What gets written, gets done – including chores, paying the bills, and brushing your teeth. As such, if you want to reinforce good teeth brushing habits, make sure that BRUSH YOUR TEETH finds its way onto a “chore chart,” or “schedule” and post it somewhere that your children will see it. If your children are too young to read, use pictures. Over time, your kids will recognize that brushing your teeth should always be done after breakfast and before bed.
5. Making Brushing Teeth Come ALIVE!
Tap into your child’s imagination by creating a story around brushing their teeth. For example, your mouth has been invaded by sugar monsters and only you (your child) can defeat them. Hand them a sword (aka toothbrush) and tell them that the only way to get rid of all the sugar monsters is to brush them away with the anti-gel (toothpaste). If you’re up for it, you can come up with a new story each night. Better yet, encourage your child to come up with their own story. Really play it up and have fun!
6. Play Music
Brushing your teeth can become a bit monotonous. Liven up the experience by playing some music – even better if that music is perfectly timed for a 2-minute brush session. We’ve been known to pull up YouTube and play a variety of “brush timer songs.” Be it Blippi or Mickey Mouse, if your kids have a little bit of entertainment paired with an otherwise boring chore, it could make brushing their teeth more fun.
7. Pick Their Own Brush
Kids are much more likely to enjoy brushing their teeth if they picked out their own toothbrush, and with so many options out there, there’s bound to be a toothbrush that your kiddo will love. Every 3 months, you can make going to the store a special treat. Mark their brushing calendar, mask up, and shop for a new toothbrush.
8. Check Your Toothpaste
Building on the previous point, some kids are particular about the flavor of toothpaste they use. If you’re finding that your child is resistant to brushing their teeth, you may want to try changing out their toothpaste and see if that makes a difference. There are a lot of different flavors out there. You may find that once you change out the flavor, your child is much more interested in brushing their teeth regularly.
Dr. Katherine Garrett is proud to provide dental care for your entire family. Call to schedule your consultation with the best dentist in Raleigh today. We encourage new patients to come by the office and meet our staff. Our goal is to make you feel comfortable in our practice and deliver exceptional dental care and treatment to your entire family. Don’t wait until January to schedule your cleaning and screening appointments. Take advantage of your dental benefits before they expire! Set your appointment now!