According to the American Dental Association, cavities in children are increasing at an alarming rate. Nearly 42% of children aged 2-11 have at least one cavity, making cavities one of the top preventable diseases in children. However, because cavities are preventable, it is important to instill a proper oral hygiene routine into kids while they are young. However, as any parent can attest, getting kids to follow directions can be a struggle, and following oral hygiene instructions is no exception. Because the most important aspect of a child’s oral hygiene is proper brushing, teaching your child to brush his/her teeth is crucial to his/her oral health. Use these six tips to make brushing fun for your kids as they establish a solid brushing routine.
Let your child pick out his/her toothbrush
Many grocery stores or supercenters offer a wide variety of children’s toothbrushes and pastes, including brushes that feature TV characters and bright colors. Make a special trip to the store and let your children pick a new toothbrush (soft or extra soft bristles) and a new tube of toothpaste. Choosing his/her supplies will help your child feel included in the brushing process.
Stay consistent in your routine
Children thrive on routines as it makes them feel secure. As recommended, your child should brush his/her teeth at least twice per day. Set up a timer to remind your child to brush. Let your child choose a fun sound or song for the timer; when it’s time to brush each day, your child will hear a funny noise or his favorite song and remember it’s time to brush.
Reward good brushing
Setting up a reward system for good brushing can help encourage your child not only brush but to brush well. A reward system can be something as simple as a sticker chart for younger kids. Older kids can earn a special privilege or earn extra TV or internet time.
Note: It’s a good idea to stay away from sugary treats (candy, cookies) as the reward.
When children think of activity as fun, they are much more willing to cooperate. While most adults wouldn’t categorize teeth brushing as a fun activity, there are ways to make brushing more fun for children, such as incorporating music into the process.
- Sing a silly song to entertain the kids while they brush.
- Play a sing-a-long music video for your child to watch as he or she brushes along.
- Invest in a toothbrush that entertains and teaches your kids. With over 16 songs, this one will change songs when your child needs to switch from brushing his top teeth to his bottom.
Use multimedia: books, TV shows
Nothing says fun to a small child quite like a festive TV show or a bright, colorful book. As you begin to establish a brushing routine, read your child stories that focus on good brushing habits. Alternatively, watch educational TV shows. Head to your local library and check out books that focus on the importance of brushing, why we brush, and how to brush.
Model good habits by brushing alongside your child. Switch it up and have some fun by switching roles. Have your child put the toothpaste on your brush and set a toothbrushing time for you. Your child will have fun as they practice what oral hygiene directions you have taught them.
No matter which tip you use to make brushing more fun, make sure to use the appropriate toothpaste for children and continue to attend regular dental visits, which play a key role in your child’s overall oral hygiene.