Approximately 20% of kids between the ages of five and 11 years old have at least one decayed tooth that’s untreated. Good oral hygiene is important for your child’s overall health and wellbeing. Trying to get them to brush their teeth can feel like you’re in a battle zone. What can you do to make it easier and fun so they will actually take care of their teeth the way they should? If you’re struggling with how to get your kid to brush their teeth, here are eight tips that can help you.
Let Your Kids Pick Out Their Dental Products
Letting your children pick out their own dental products can be a great incentive if you’re struggling with how to get your kid to brush their teeth. Picking out their own toothbrush and toothpaste with their favorite cartoon or superhero characters on them may make them more willing to use them. Your child may be easily entertained by an electric toothbrush that tickles and plays fun music or makes noises. Choose a toothpaste in a yummy flavor your child will enjoy, such as strawberry or bubble gum. The mint-flavored toothpaste for adults may be overpowering and make it less likely for them to be willing to brush their teeth.
As you’re going shopping, you can point out outdoor business signs that are related to oral hygiene. You may see a billboard of a child brushing their teeth or an advertisement for dental products. It can be a great way to show them that brushing their teeth is just a normal part of life. You may even see signs about dental care for animals. Your child may be more interested in brushing their teeth if they know that their pet has to have their teeth brushed too. When shopping, choose soft-bristled toothbrushes and replace them every three or four months.
Show Pictures of Poor Oral Hygiene
Wondering how to get your kid to brush their teeth? Another interesting method is to gross them out with pictures of poor oral hygiene. This can give them a visual education on why good oral hygiene is important. You may need to be careful as you don’t want to make them fearful of going to the dentist. You can show them pictures that are on your dentist’s website to show what could happen if they don’t brush their teeth as a reinforcement for good dental behavior. Showing them Grandma’s false teeth might encourage them to be more willing to develop better brushing habits.
Another way you can educate them about oral hygiene is by reading books. You can visit the library to find picture books for younger children and story books for older children you can use to talk about good oral hygiene. Read the stories together as a family at bedtime. You can also watch videos online or download dental games to play together. Your dentist can show them models of teeth and how they can change if they don’t take good care of them.
Sometimes watching cartoons about tooth brushing can be great motivators for how to get your kid to brush their teeth. They may be more likely to listen to a fun character than mom and dad who want to take away their fun. If Peppa Pig or Elmo think that brushing teeth is a big deal, your child may just think the same thing. You can also make up stories while your child is brushing their teeth. End with a cliffhanger that you’ll only continue the next time they brush their teeth.
Stick to a Routine
Routines are crucial when it comes to how to get your kid to brush their teeth. When it comes to routines, it’s best to start early. Dental care should start before your child gets their first tooth. Wiping an infant’s gums regularly can help them get used to having something in their mouth. It may make them less likely to fight tooth brushing as the activity becomes a regular routine.
Schedule their first visit to your family dentistry provider on their first birthday, and yearly after that. Routine examinations and cleanings can help prevent cavities and detect problems before they become serious. During your visit, you can ask the dentist for recommendations on how to get your kid to brush their teeth. These dental visits will also help your child develop a healthy relationship with the dentist so they can properly take care of their teeth in the future.
On hard and busy days, you may be tempted to let your child skip brushing. However, it’s important to stick to a routine so that it becomes second-nature for your child. Your child should brush their teeth twice a day. Your routine could be right after breakfast before they go to school and then again at night before they go to bed. If your child fights brushing their teeth at bedtime, you can try to switch the routine up by having them brush after a bath or after supper.
Curious about how to get your kid to brush their teeth when you’re battling them every day when it comes to brushing time? Switch tactics and offer incentives. There are many different types of incentives that don’t necessarily involve paying your kid to brush their teeth. For example, they can enjoy a trip to a fast food restaurant if they brush their teeth every day for a week. You could let them stay up a little longer after their bedtime. They can pick out their favorite movie on family night or get to choose the next family fun activity.
Pre-kindergarten children might be incentivized with their favorite snack or a new toy. They can also be motivated by offering them lots of praise when they choose to brush their teeth on their own. Figure out what rewards work best for your child and build a rewards system accordingly. Whatever incentive you choose, try to stay away from anything that involves candy or sweets. Candy and sweets create cavities and defeat the purpose of practicing good dental care.
Utilize a Chart to Track Progress
Creating a chart to track progress can be a great motivator if you’re wondering how to get your kid to brush their teeth. Stamps and stickers are often used in a day care center to track certain activities. They can help your child easily see their progress and be held accountable when it comes to brushing their teeth. You can create a rewards chart yourself or download one from one of the many websites online. Set easy goals such as brushing at least once a day and gradually build from there.
If you’re curious about how to get your kid to brush their teeth along with other healthy oral hygiene habits, you can also utilize charts to measure the progress of all of these activities. Your child can learn how to make good food choices for their teeth. Have them cut out pictures of various foods from magazines and have them paste the pictures in one of two columns between good and bad foods. You could also use charts to help eliminate bad dental habits, such as thumbsucking. Use your imagination and make it fun!
Use Music to Time Brushing and Make it Fun
Wondering how to get your kid to brush their teeth in a fun and enjoyable way? Use music. Let them choose their favorite song and challenge them to brush their teeth until the song ends. Make sure the song is at least two minutes long, which is the ideal time for brushing teeth. There are apps you can use that have timers that light up or make fun noises when teeth brushing time is finished. Have fun dancing and singing along until the time is up.
Allow your child to use their imagination while they are brushing their teeth. They can pretend to be superheroes fighting cavity monsters or compete against one another to see who can spit the farthest in the sink. Play pretend outside of the bathroom by make-believing you’re dentists taking care of their stuffed animals’ teeth. Make a mad dash during your child’s favorite TV show and brush your teeth together during the commercial break. Create an obstacle course and see who can make it to the bathroom first with a toothbrush and toothpaste in hand.
While your child is brushing their teeth, you can create a silly hair style to make them laugh. Have a competition and see who can brush their teeth the longest. The goal is to get rid of any negative emotions and feelings that may be involved when it comes to how to get your kid to brush their teeth. If your kid no longer sees it as a battle and more like a game, they may be more willing to participate. It can also strengthen your relationship and relieve stress.
Decorate Your Bathroom
When it comes to how to get your kid to brush their teeth, one thing you may not have considered is to decorate the bathroom. Decorating the bathroom to make it more kid-friendly may incentivize your child to spend more time building healthy hygiene habits. Make it a family activity by letting your kids be painters with you, or hire an interior painting contractor do the work. Let them pick out their favorite colors and wall art or decorations. You may want to make sure that your countertops have rounded edges to prevent potential injuries.
If your child has trouble reaching the sink when brushing their teeth, you can get them a stool with a skid-proof bottom. Your child can customize the stool with their name or decorate it using stencils. Include non-slip mats and rugs to help prevent falls and provide some cushion if they do trip. Make sure to turn the water heater down to prevent accidental scalding. Having kid friendly accessories such as toothbrush holders and rinsing cups can help make teeth brushing a more enjoyable activity.
Make it a Family Activity
You may struggle less with how to get your kid to brush their teeth if you do it together as a family. Kids model their behavior by watching their parents, so why not set a good example? The more your child sees you brush your teeth like it’s no big deal, the more likely they won’t consider it a big deal either. It can help you bond closer together in the same way that family dinners and activities do.
Use your time together to teach your child how to brush their teeth in the right way. You can compare the process to the way that new and used cars are washed when it comes to paying attention to details. Show your child the right angles and brushing motions to help them clean their teeth accurately. You can also show them safe methods for teeth whitening to achieve a pearly white smile. One safe way for kids is to mix lemons and baking soda together to scrub their teeth with.
Another important aspect of how to get your kid to brush their teeth is monitoring their progress in learning how to do it. Making it a family activity can ensure your child learns how in a safe way. Children may try to use too much toothpaste when they brush, which can create a choking hazard. In the beginning, you may want to control how much toothpaste they use or supervise to make sure they are safe. Use an amount the size of grain for children under 3 years old and a pea-sized amount for children that are older.
When it comes to picking your battles, getting your kid to brush their teeth is one that you don’t want to lose. Use these tips for how to get your kid to brush their teeth to help your child build good lifelong oral hygiene habits. If you still struggle after trying these tips, you may want to ask your dentist for recommendations. There may be underlying problems such as sensory issues that may require treatment. Start building healthy dental habits with your child today.