We all want our children to have clean, healthy teeth. However, convincing children to make it a priority as well can be a challenge. Some children love brushing their teeth, but tend to be slapdash and ineffectual about it. Other children act like brushing teeth is the most strenuous chore in the world. Here are some tips to assist you in your never-ending quest to encourage your children to have great personal dental hygiene:
Lead by example
Hands down, the best way to get your children to brush their teeth effectively is to model the proper behavior yourself. Gather together in the bathroom when it’s time and allow them to mirror your actions. Show them how long to spend on each quadrant of the mouth, and don’t forget the tongue and back teeth. If your children are still really young, follow up the brush-together time by brushing their teeth yourself.
Make those 2 minutes fun
The American Association of Dentists says that in order to be effective, we need to brush for two full minutes, twice a day. Very few people meet this time recommendation and even fewer children. In order to make sure your children are getting the job done, check out the ADA’s fun 2 minutes 2x a day campaign videos that encourage brushing and keep your child entertained and engaged for the full two minutes.
Alternatively, you might just find yourself a “brushing song” that fills the whole two minutes and listen on your iPad or phone when it’s brushing time.
While this isn’t a solution for every night, it’s a great tool to help remind your children to brush thoroughly and to check in on how good of a job they’re doing. Plaque-revealing tablets are available in the grocery store. As your child chews the tablet, plaque and tartar on the teeth will be dyed a distinctive color. This allows them to actually see how well they’re doing at brushing each corner of the mouth. Test them by having them brush without looking in the mirror and see if their regular brushing methods are actually getting rid of all of the color. Doing this every couple weeks can be a great reminder to your children.
Pick their own
Kids like brushing better when they feel like they have some choice and power in the matter. There are plenty of fun, exciting options out there for toothbrushes and toothpaste for children. You might find a toothbrush that’s your child’s favorite color, decorated with exciting sparkles and swirls, or perhaps even be shaped like their favorite character.
Often, with older children, they know how to brush effectively, but they probably skip a night here or there when left to their own devices. It’s amazing what a difference a progress chart can make in this case! There’s a reason that stickers and stars on homework are so effective. Celebrating their victories with these little acknowledgments makes kids feel more positive and motivated about daily brushing.