Helping your child brush their teeth and establishing good habits now can set them up for a lifetime of good oral health.
Teaching your child good oral hygiene habits can be trying, but it's one thing your child will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Here are some ideas to help even the most frustrated parent or caregiver. The following tips might even make your children want to brush!
Set aside a regular toothbrushing routine – When it's a hectic morning and everyone's running late, or it's been a long day, and everyone is exhausted, it might be tempting to let brushing slide. But this just gives kids the impression that brushing isn't that important. If you treat brushing and flossing as important as bathing and brushing your hair, your child will learn that it's a non-negotiable part of the daily routine.
Give Them A Choice – Children's toothbrushes come in many colors, and toothpaste marketed just for kids comes in a bunch of colors and flavors. Let your child pick out their own brush, and they may be willing to brush without a struggle.
Make Brushing Time Fun – The American Dental Association recommends brushing for two minutes, twice a day. Why not make it fun by putting on your child's favorite song and dancing? You might find they brush longer so they can finish the song!
A Little Reward Goes a Long Way – On the days that your child willingly brushes without a fuss, offer up a bunch of praise and a little reward like a sticker or five minutes extra screen time.
Lead the Way – Children learn best by observing, and they want to do everything you or an older sibling does. After dinner, brush together as a family, and make it a fun way to spend a couple of extra minutes of family bonding.
Enlist a Professional – Sometimes, kids defy their parents in a struggle for independence. If you are struggling to get your child to brush, reach out to your child's dentist or hygienist. They may set up a special appointment or address it at your child's next cleaning. Ask them to show your child the right way to brush. Most dentists have a disclosing liquid or chewable tablets that show areas of missed plaque. After your child rinses with the liquid or chews a tablet, they will be able to see exactly where they missed during brushing. This can be surprising to children and can encourage better brushing habits.
No matter how frustrating it can be to get your child to brush, it's important never to yell, threaten, or hold your child down to brush their teeth. This not only causes hurt feelings, but it can negatively affect your child and make them want to brush even less. Stay calm, take a deep breath, and remember while it might take a while, it will happen. Encouraging your child in a supportive, positive way is the key to building a lifetime of good hygiene habits.