You know it’s time to start thinking about brushing for your kids once the baby teeth arrive. Getting them to brush can be tough; however, there are ways to get them to brush regularly. Try these methods to help your little ones relax and take to brushing. Start now and let your kids learn the importance of taking care of their teeth from an early age. They’ll thank you for it.
- Start early – It’s never too early to start teaching your kids good oral hygiene. Start teaching how to brush for themselves before the baby teeth come in. Wipe your baby’s gums with a soft, damp cloth, then switch to a toothbrush after the first baby teeth show (by around six months old). Once the teeth start touching, add flossing to the list. By the baby’s first birthday, make an appointment with your family dentist to get started on the road to good dental health.
- Be a good example yourself – Children take after their parents. If you want your kids to pick up the habit of brushing and flossing, set an example for them to follow. Make sure your little ones see you brush and floss every day to impress on them how important proper brushing is. Encourage your little one to watch closely and copy your moves, so they know how it’s done.
- Try a new toothbrush – It may not seem like a big deal, but a new toothbrush can be a novelty for your little one. Many companies make kids’ toothbrushes designed to appeal to kids. Take your child with you to find a new toothbrush, maybe something featuring a favourite character that can encourage brushing. Bringing your little one with you also makes them more invested in “their” toothbrush, which can help with cultivating the habit.
Electric toothbrushes can be a good way to get kids’ mouths clean. Children might not have the dexterity to get all the spots on teeth. An electric toothbrush provides more cleaning power and reaches the hard-to-reach places easily. Plus, some kids like the whirring motion as the brush cleans.
- Employ rewards – Incentives are generally a great way to get your kids to do things. Create a reward system for your kids to help them learn to like brushing. Kids are usually more motivated by fun than dental hygiene. Offer rewards they’ll want, like staying up a few minutes before bedtime or picking the next movie for movie night.
One easy system you can use is keeping a sticker calendar. Give a gold star (or something similar) for each night your child brushes their teeth properly. After they get enough stars, they’re entitled to a treat. Tailor your rewards to your little one’s preferences to make the prize more fun. Offer plenty of praise after brushing to add further encouragement for next time.
- Combine with a favourite show – Take advantage of your little one’s favourite show to help encourage them to brush. Use the show as a reward and let them watch only after they’ve brushed. You can also use the show as a distraction in case of a resistant child. Let them watch their show while you brush their teeth. Watching as you brush can help them relax while you do the cleaning. After some time, your little one will get used to the routine, and they can join you in brushing on their own.
- Make it a game – One helpful trick is to make toothbrushing a game. Children like having fun, and mixing it with brushing can make it easier for the habit to stick while they’re young.
For example, tell your kids that there are “sugar bugs” attacking the teeth and that the only way to defeat them is to use a toothbrush and toothpaste. You can even make the game more real by tying a cape around your little one to make them feel like a superhero. There are plenty of teeth games out there you can use to help your little ones. For best results, make a game that appeals to your child’s likes. A more personal game can be more effective at grabbing their attention. Besides, your little one will likely thank you for making brushing a more memorable experience.
- Use tasty toothpaste – For many kids, toothpaste is the biggest hurdle to proper brushing habits. Remedy that problem by buying toothpaste specifically tailored for children. If your kids aren’t used to the taste of toothpaste, get another type they might like more. Try different flavours until you find something that clicks. The same flavour can differ between brands, so keep trying until you get something that works for your little one. Let your children come along with you when you buy new toothpaste. Having some agency in what toothpaste to purchase can help them take to brushing more easily.
- Play music – Most dentists advise you to brush for at least two minutes, and that also goes for your kids. One easy way of setting a timer is using music. Playing one of your little one’s favourite songs is a good way to make brushing a more pleasant daily ritual. Pick a two-minute long song to help them brush for as long as needed.
Try a musical toothbrush. These toothbrushes play music or flash colourful lights for two minutes. Your little one can start brushing when the music plays and stop when the song does. Try this idea to give your child more responsibility and help them take charge of their brushing.
- Tell a story – Stories are usually a great way to teach children how to do things. Kids find them a relatable way to understand fundamental concepts, like dental education. Use age-appropriate books to get your little ones to appreciate how vital brushing is (especially for reluctant brushers). Alternatively, you can make up your own story. For example, tell your kids there are animals in their mouths they need to chase with the toothbrush. Start the “chase” yourself, then let your children finish the job themselves.
- Get the whole family involved – Families that do things together tend to stay together. Make brushing the teeth a family affair to make it a more fun activity for your kids, especially if you have very young ones. Do this when you have kids too young to brush on their own. Let your kids practice brushing on you or on younger siblings to get the hang of it in a controlled environment. Think of this method as a way to introduce your children to the routine of brushing.
When it comes to teaching your kids valuable life skills, practical teaching is usually a good idea. Give your little ones a chance to get hands-on with brushing to help them relax and get used to it. It’s vital you make brushing a routine affair to familiarize them with brushing twice a day. A good foundation is key to helping children form good habits; start when your kids are young so they can get a head start on learning to care for their teeth.
When you need a family dentist in Sarnia to help with your little ones’ dental problems, give Lambton Family Dental a visit. We offer quality care for everyone in the family (from toddlers to seniors). Our team provides patients with compassionate preventive care to avoid issues in the first place. Contact us at (519) 344-5747 to make an appointment.