Oral hygiene is important to people of all ages. Keeping your mouth healthy is important to your overall wellbeing. As an adult, you know how important it is to brush and floss daily. But if you are a parent, you probably understand the battle that takes place when you want your children to keep their teeth clean.
Listed below are tips on how to get your child excited about brushing their teeth.
Show Them How to Brush
You should start to make your child’s tooth brushing experience fun by showing them how to do it. Every time you brush your children’s teeth, you are solidifying the skills they need to do it themselves. Make sure you take your time and show them how to brush effectively. This will reinforce the importance of the skills and techniques you use.
You should also show your children how you brush. They will likely imitate you. If you show your son or daughter how important brushing your teeth is to you, it will become important to them as well.
Make Brushing Part of Story Time
Children love to listen to stories. Create a fun, exciting story that you only tell while brushing their teeth. You may tell them about the evil wizard Gingivitis and how he and his minions, Plaque and Tartar, try to destroy the kingdom of Mouth. Make the heroes of the story Brush, Floss, and Tooth Paste. Tell your child how these three knights fight Plaque and Tartar, and banish the evil wizard from the kingdom.
The story you tell your child doesn’t have to be a silly as that. As long as you make it exciting and only tell it while you brush, your child will love it and ask you to tell it again.
Another thing children love to do is play. Spend some time playing dentist with your child. You can go out and buy them a toothbrush and floss to use as toys. You may want to save the toothpaste for times when you will actually brush their teeth. Otherwise, playing dentist might get too messy.
When you begin to play, you should start out as the dentist. Take the time to show them proper brushing techniques. Once your child gets an idea of how a dentist will act, switch roles. You play the patient and let your child play the dentist. Give your child an opportunity to clean your mouth. This will let you know how effectively they will clean their own. Once your child finishes your check-up, call in one of their stuffed animals, teddy bears, siblings, or your spouse as the next patient.
Have Your Child Choose Their Own Brush
Another thing to consider is that children like to feel independent. As you grow confident in your child’s skill in brushing, allow them to brush their teeth by themselves. The first few times they brush on their own, pay close attention as they do so. Make sure they are spending the right amount of time on each area of the mouth.
If they aren’t brushing properly, gently correct them. Make sure to praise the positive aspects of their technique. This will help to reinforce proper brushing habits and keep them feeling good about their skill.
Show Them Positive Examples on the Big Screen
If your child likes movies or television, point out the healthy smiles of their favorite characters and talk about how they get their teeth clean. Actors and actresses are well known for having bright white smiles.
If you son or daughter is too young to enjoy live-action movies or television shows, use their favorite cartoon prince or princess as an example. If you look at any Disney character, they all have big white toothy grins. From Sleeping Beauty and Queen Elsa to Prince Eric and Hans of the Southern Isles, all Disney characters seem to take excellent care of their teeth. Even the Beast from “Beauty and the Beast” has big white fangs.
If your son or daughter models their life after their favorite cartoon character, have them pattern their dental care after them too.
If all else fails and you can’t get your child excited about brushing their teeth, consider bribery. Avoid bribing them with candy and sweets. Giving them too much sugar is counterproductive to your end goal. But find something else your child really wants. Make a cleaning goal and when they reach that goal, reward them with their chosen item.
This can be a toy, a movie, a healthy snack, or simply an afternoon at their favorite place with mom or dad. Your ultimate goal for bribery should be to have a healthy mouth as the reward, but that may take some time.
There are many more ways you can get your child excited about brushing their teeth. For more help, contact your family dentist. He or she has years of experience helping parents keep their children’s mouths clean.