For many families, tooth brushing time comes with squabbles, resistance, and in some cases, tears. Very few young children will routinely brush their teeth without persuasion from mom or dad. No matter how hard it is, it’s important to continue encouraging our children to brush for healthy teeth and gums. Try these tricks to make toothbrushing fun.
1. Let Your Child Choose
Nearly one-third of all children starting school each year show signs of tooth decay, according to the Oral Health Foundation. Something as simple as letting your child choose their own toothbrush and toothpaste can help cut down on cavities by motivating young children to brush. Today, you can find products with your kid’s favorite characters, such as Disney princesses, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Ninja Turtles.
2. Try an Electric Toothbrush
Electric toothbrushes are not just fun for young children; they can also be more effective at cleaning teeth. One study performed by the Cochrane Oral Health Group showed that a powered toothbrush is more effective at removing plaque than a manual toothbrush. However, continue to supervise your child’s toothbrushing techniques until age 7.
3. Use Disclosing Tablets
Some young children are simply unaware of the areas they miss when brushing. Plaque disclosing tablets can highlight these areas covered in plaque for improved brushing habits. Have your child chew a tablet and swish the salvia around their mouth for 30 seconds, then spit it out. The areas that need further brushing will turn a different color.
4. Play their Favorite Song
Colgate recommends brushing at least twice a day for a minimum of two minutes. To motivate your child to brush for those full two minutes, play their favorite song or a fun toothbrushing song. Playing an upbeat song can make the time fly and your child will be having fun as he or she brushes.
5. Set Up a Reward Chart
From potty training to daily chores, reward charts work well to encourage children to complete tasks that they would otherwise avoid. You can make your own reward chart at home with paper and markers or print off a pre-made reward chart online. Choose a healthy reward like a trip to the zoo or a movie night with a friend.
6. Brush as a Family
To many children, toothbrushing seems like a chore. Show your child that toothbrushing is important, but can also be fun, by brushing right along with them. As most young kids like to imitate their parents’ behavior, your child will enjoy brushing and flossing as you brush and floss. Siblings of all ages can join in too. Brushing as a family can also double as a bonding experience.
7. Download an App
Today, there are apps for everything, including toothbrushing. There are many free and low-cost apps available that encourage your kids to brush longer and to reach areas of their mouth that they usually avoid. Some children’s toothbrushing apps also double as a digital reward chart. Videos and games featuring your kid’s favorite characters also remind them of the importance of brushing and how to brush correctly for healthy teeth.
Morning and nighttime routines can quickly be disrupted when children decide that they simply don’t want to brush their teeth. Parents – don’t give up. You can make toothbrushing a fun, enjoyable time by using a little creativity in the bathroom. By encouraging your child to brush his or her teeth at an early age, you can help maintain good oral health habits for a lifetime.