7 Ways to Help Get Your Kids to Brush Regularly
You know how important it is for your kids to brush their teeth regularly, but getting them to do it sometimes feels liking trying to move a mountain. It is a known fact of parenthood that your child will fight you on doing anything that is good for them like taking a bath or eating their vegetables. And brushing their teeth is no different. While it might not seem like a big deal to let it slide every once in a while when your child is feeling particularly cantankerous, it can be a slippery slope that can lead to a lifetime of bad oral habits and poor oral hygiene. In recent years, dentists have seen a rise in cavities in preschool aged children that is concerning and needs to be addressed.
The best way to prevent dental issues so early in life is to start good brushing habits as early as possible in your child’s life. Here are some ways to help get your kids to brush regularly without you losing your cool in the process:
Model good behavior
Children are like sponges. They are watching your every move and want to be just like you. If they see you brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing they will see how important it is to have a clean mouth. Have them stand at the sink while you are doing it so they can see the proper way to do it. Even brush your teeth together. Let them pick out their own cool toothbrush and flavor of toothpaste so they will be excited about brushing their teeth every day.
If you know you are lax in your own dental habits, it is important to address them as soon as possible because your child will fight you less if you are practicing good habits yourself.
Explain why it is so important
Some kids need an explanation for everything as they try to understand the world around them. If your child is inquisitive by nature, then take the time to explain to your child why regular teeth brushing is so important. Explain about cavities and plaque and what can happen to their teeth over time. Give them a sense of ownership over their own body so they feel like they are making the decision to do the right thing. You don’t want to scare them, but give them enough information so they take it seriously.
Do a little experiment
If your child needs more encouragement and loves science experiments, ask your dentist or pharmacist for a dissolving agent that can highlight the plaque on your child’s teeth. All your child has to do is chew the tablet and when they open their mouth, the parts of their teeth with plaque on it will look pink. They can’t deny what happens when they don’t brush properly when it is staring right at them in the mirror.
Make brushing fun
Kids just want to have fun and they don’t want to stop and take the time to do something that takes them away from their fun. Who wants to brush their teeth when they can go play outside? The best way to battle this is to make brushing a fun experience. One suggestion pediatric dentists often give is to have them sing “The wheels on the train go around and around” as they make circular motion on their teeth. Not only is it more fun, but it helps them adopt the proper brushing technique of massaging round strokes instead of just brushing back and forth.
You can also have a bubble making contest while brushing your teeth together. Whomever makes the most bubbles while brushing wins a small prize like an extra book at bedtime or a trip to the park. If your child has a favorite toy like a teddy bear or a baby doll, you can also encourage him to bring it into the bathroom and brush its teeth too.
Help them keep time
Kids and patience don’t always get along well and they are naturally going to want to rush their teeth brushing to get to the fun so you need to help them keep time better so they brush their teeth for the recommended two minutes. Easy ways include have them sing the alphabet song while brushing and tell them they can’t stop until the song is done. Or have them simply count the time or give them a little egg timer that will go off after two minutes.
Set aside proper time for it
If you are constantly running late in the morning and rushing them off to bed when they are already sleepy, then you are not giving enough time for proper brushing. A tired child and a stressed out parent means that at most teeth brushing will be a slap–dash affair that will not be done correctly. By setting aside time when you are not in a rush and your child is alert, you will make the whole process a lot less painful for both you and your child.
Be their cheering squad
Finally, make it a point to compliment your kids when they brush their teeth correctly. Not only will they feel good about the extra effort they are putting in, it emphasizes to them how important the daily habit is.
If your child continues to fight you with good brushing habits, however, don’t be afraid to ask your dentist for help. Sometimes the outside reinforcement from another authority figure is what a child needs to take it seriously. If even with the team approach, it is a constant batte, don’t give up. While it might be tempting to let it slide to avoid big blow ups, it is crucial for your child’s long term health to make it a daily habit now. Cavities and gum disease can lead to a lifetime of expensive and painful dental issues. It is not always going to be easy to get your children to brush their teeth every morning and evening, but it is essential that you get your kids to brush regularly.