While many people think of oral health issues as a problem that comes with age, this is not the case. 20% of children between the ages of 5-11 have at least one untreated decayed tooth, which can cause discomfort and a plethora of other health issues. These problems include gum disease, headaches, and jaw problems that stem from biting down on food incorrectly.
Clearly, dental care for kids is important, and the main aspect of this is tooth brushing. But what can you do to make brushing more palatable for reluctant little ones? Read on to learn the answer to this question and to get some expert strategies for making teeth-brushing time more fun.
1. Brush Your Teeth Together
Children- especially small children- love to imitate the adults in their life. They view the things that you do as mature, sophisticated, and interesting, and they believe that mimicking your movements will make them develop these qualities as well.
This means that setting an example and brushing your teeth at the same time as your child does will make brushing time more fun for them. They will be happy to imitate your movements so that they can feel like an adult themselves. This strategy is great because it motivates you to brush properly as well!
2. Play Fun Music
Children tend to struggle with brushing their teeth for a long enough period of time. Even when they do decide to brush, it could last for only 10 seconds before they get bored and decide that they’re done. This is clearly insufficient, so you need to give them something fun to do for the entire interval that they should be brushing.
A favorite song can do just that. Turn on a tune that your child likes and brush your teeth for the interval that that song plays in. This will generally give your child anywhere between 2-4 minutes of brushing time and allow them to reach into every part of their mouth.
3. Get a Cool Toothbrush
It can be tempting to get your child an adult toothbrush- they’re cheap, easy to access, and come in packs that you can use as well. However, in a child’s mind, these toothbrushes are incredibly boring. They’re usually unicolor and have no fun print on them besides a brand name that kids don’t care about.
Luckily, they do manufacture toothbrushes that kids are sure to love. If your child loves Disney princesses, you can find a Mulan or Cinderella toothbrush at any department store. The same applies to other favorite characters like Toy Story, Cars, Hello Kitty, and more.
4. Make Games and Tell Stories
Kids are incredibly imaginative and they love to play games. You can make tooth-brushing into a kind of game with them where you bring in a favorite toy or doll and brush its teeth before moving onto their own.
If your child is too old for that or seems disinterested, you can play hide-and-seek with their toothbrush and toothpaste. Having them play a game of treasure hunt of hot-and-cold to find it is something that they may look forward to and associate with brushing time. This will put them in a good mood and give them a positive mindset about oral hygiene.
5. Offer Fun Rewards
Children often don’t feel like they’re getting any benefits from brushing their teeth, which makes them understandably reluctant to do so. In their mind, it’s a waste of time at best and an unpleasant bad-tasting activity at worst. However, offering them a small reward can help them view tooth-brushing as a chore that they get something out of.
Daily rewards can be something as simple as a sticker or interestingly-shaped rubber eraser (they come in bulk packs at the dollar store and kids love them.) You can also set up a larger weekly reward for brushing twice a day, such as a dinner at a favorite restaurant or an extra hour of iPad time.
6. Switch Up Toothpaste Flavors
Everyone has tried using a toothpaste that they don’t like before, and it really puts a damper on brushing time. Even adults procrastinate and outright avoid brushing when their toothpaste tastes bad or has some weird, awful texture. Children, as is to be expected, will also avoid this but on a much larger scale.
Ask your child directly if they like the toothpaste that they’re using. If they say ‘no,’ take them to the store and let them select an alternative that they think they might like. Check in again a couple of weeks later (make sure that you give them time to adjust and get used to the new toothpaste). Repeat the process if they still dislike their toothpaste.
7. Be Encouraging
Children love to receive praise because they value the opinions of their parents. Cheering your child on while they brush their teeth is a great way to make them feel good about the activity. Stand by and tell them when they do something specifically good while brushing such as hitting spots on both sides of their mouth or brushing their tongue.
Offering them a sincere ‘good job’ after they finish brushing is sometimes all that it takes to turn oral hygiene maintenance from a chore to an opportunity to please.
Get Professional Dental Care for Kids
While frequent brushing is important for children, seeing a professional twice a year is also critical to pediatric oral health. Scheduling an appointment with your local dentist ensures that your child will get the dental care that they need to maintain their adorable smile.
Schedule an appointment with our knowledgeable dental professionals. We offer both preventative and restorative dentistry solutions so little ones can get the care that they need. Feel free to also browse our webpage if you want more information before scheduling and to contact us with any remaining questions that you may have.