Developing good dental hygiene habits early is extremely important for your child’s oral health throughout their lifetime. Brushing regularly, establishing routine teeth cleaning exams and flossing are all part of a clean and healthy mouth. Most parents know, however, that this task is sometimes easier said than done!
Good oral health starts with great brushing habits. But between a child’s developing motor skills, love of sugary foods and, sometimes, lack of desire, getting your kids to brush their teeth twice a day can feel like a daily battle. Never fear! There are lots of ways to make teeth brushing a habit with your child.
How to Get Your Kids to Brush Their Teeth
Here are some of our favorite tips to make brushing teeth fun for kids.
1. Start Brushing Your Kids Teeth Early!
It’s a myth that you have to wait until your child is a certain age to begin a great oral hygiene routine. In fact, you can start almost right away. Try using a soft, damp cloth to carefully wipe your baby’s gums each day, then switch to a baby toothbrush once those first teeth pop through. When teeth start to touch, you can introduce flossing. Many pediatric dentistry practices recommend bringing your child in for their first dental appointment at 1 year old, and keeping up a regular routine thereafter until they’re ready for their first cleaning.
When you start this early, it won’t be such a hassle to introduce solo toothbrushing when your child’s motor skills are up to the task. They’ll be familiar with the process of keeping their teeth clean and it’ll be a much easier habit to keep in the future. Plus, it won’t feel scary and new…it’ll just feel like something they’ve always done!
2. Establish a Fun Tooth Brushing Routine
Part of establishing good habits is to wrap them up as part of a routine. Your routine can be whatever is most fun for you and your child! Perhaps your child earns a sticker each time they brush well. Or maybe you read your child a short story while they brush. Or maybe it’s a family affair, with all of you brushing at the same time.
Whatever your routine, stick to it no matter what, even on vacations or days when everyone is over-tired. The advantage of making it fun and unique to you and your family is that it will be much easier to keep the habit during these times.
3. Play a Song
Ask your child what their current favorite song is, and play it while they brush. You can incorporate a dance party if the song is upbeat. Just make sure your child brushes for a full two minutes of the song.
You could also have a morning toothbrush song and an evening toothbrush song. Or perhaps you have a weekly playlist…a song for each day of the week, and a super special one for weekends. Again, it’s up to you and your child and how you want to establish this habit and routine!
4. Buy the Right Toothbrush and Toothpaste
The right toothbrush and toothpaste for your child is, of course, the one they’ll use! In fact, we recommend letting your child pick out their own toothbrush and even toothpaste at the drugstore. Set up the shopping trip as an adventure and let them pick the (child-size) toothbrush that gets them excited. The range of children’s toothbrushes today is wide, so there’s lots of options for superheroes, favorite characters, bright colors and lots of other things that’ll make your kid happy and excited to brush.
One thing to note: make sure that you provide your child with a toothbrush designed for their age. Larger handles and softer bristles are ideal since they fit little hands better and are gentle on developing teeth and gums.
5. Try a Tooth Brushing App for Kids
There are lots of great apps to help kids brush better. Most kids brushing apps are a variation of a fun character and a timer to keep kids brushing for a full two minutes. And there are others that offer stickers and badges for brushing streaks. Use an app your child likes and seems to keep them motivated.
We like Brush Up, which gives tutorials to kids on how to brush, sets a two minute timer, and has a helpful robot to guide the way. It also has badges and stickers and can even send reports to your dentist. Other notable apps are the Heroes of Hygiene and the Disney Magic Timer, which features kids favorite superheroes, princesses and characters to help with brushing time.
No matter how you motivate your child to brush, establish a routine and habit that works for you and your family and makes it easy to say “yes!” to brushing twice a day, every day. And, of course, the best way to help establish good habits is to be a great example yourself. Don’t neglect your twice-yearly exams, talk often to your kids about good oral care or even brush with them (even if your wakeup and bedtimes don’t align with theirs). You’re on your way to happy and healthy smiles for your whole family!
Remember: The above information should be used as general guidelines and should not be substituted for medical advice. If you have questions about your kid’s teeth, you should contact our skilled dentists right away for a dental exam.
Professional Dentistry and Pediatric Dentistry in Columbus Ohio
Establish great oral hygiene habits in your kids early! Our amazing pediatric dentists work with kids of all ages to keep their smiles happy. Contact us today to schedule a cleaning!