When parents come into our Houston dental office, one of the most common questions we receive is, “How can I get my kids to brush their teeth?” Parents understand that it is important to teach their kids healthy habits, which includes brushing their teeth two times a day. The problem is that many kids don’t always want to do what their parents say.
But, the battle over brushing their teeth is worth it. Colgate explains, “Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic conditions in kids, affecting about 20 percent of those between the ages of five and 11, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And not brushing now can cause your child discomfort, as well as problems with eating and speaking, well into the eruption of their adult teeth. It also sets up a pattern of not brushing in the future, which can lead to health issues in other parts of the body.”
Here at Greenspoint Dental in Houston, we understand that getting your kids to practice good oral hygiene can be challenging, which is why we are sharing ten unique ways to get your kids to brush their teeth.
Consider the Reasons Why Kids Do Not Want to Brush Their Teeth
The first thing parents should do is consider the various reasons why their kids might not like brushing their teeth. Often, the problem simply comes down to toothpaste flavor. Young kids are not big fans of minty toothpaste flavors that adults use, so when possible, allow your kids to use a kid-friendly toothpaste.
If your kids have sensory issues, this may make brushing teeth difficult. Colgate says, “Some kids are more sensitive to touch than others, which makes tooth brushing especially unpleasant. Children with autism or attention disorders are likely to have sensitivities that affect oral care, in particular, according to the Special Care Dentistry Association.”
Lastly, your kids may not understand the importance of brushing their teeth. Many kids don’t believe it is important because they haven’t experienced any negative consequences, such as cavities. This is why it is important for parents to explain why brushing their teeth is preventative care.
Once you have tackled the reasons behind your kids’ unwillingness to brush their teeth, here are ten things you can do to encourage them.
- Model Good Oral Hygiene
First and foremost, you must model good oral hygiene. Your kids will watch and see what you do – and that includes brushing your teeth each day. Welcome the kids into the bathroom and let them watch you brush your teeth. Allow them to smell your breath after. This is more effective than anything else.
- Get Fun Toothbrushes
We want kids not to be afraid to visit their Houston dentist, so it is important to make the toothbrushing experience a fun one. One of the easiest ways to make brushing your teeth fun is to allow your kids to pick out their own toothbrush. There are tons of toothbrushes for kids that are brightly colored or have characters that kids recognize. They will be more willing to brush their teeth if they like the actual toothbrush.
- Make Toothbrushing Part of Your Regular Routine
From the time kids are babies, you should begin including toothbrushing into your family’s routine. For example, when kids get dressed each morning, part of the routine should include brushing their teeth. The same goes for nighttime when putting on pajamas. Mouth Healthy explains, “You may be tempted to let your child skip brushing after a long day or during times when your normal schedule is off (like vacation), but keep at it. The more second nature brushing becomes the easier it will be to make sure your child is brushing twice a day for two minutes.”
- Create a Toothbrushing Playlist
Your Houston dentist will tell you that you need to brush for two minutes, but kids don’t have a clear understanding of time. (Most adults can’t tell when two minutes have passed either.) That’s why we recommend creating a toothbrushing playlist with songs that last approximately two minutes. Encourage your kids to brush their teeth for the duration of the song.
- Watch a Toothbrushing Video
For those kids who are visual learners, there are several instructional videos for toothbrushing on YouTube that are designed for kids. Kids can watch these videos on a mobile device while they are brushing their teeth.
- Reward the Behavior
Most kids respond well to rewards – especially positive praise. When your kids brush their teeth on their own, be sure to compliment them and praise them for being independent. Additionally, some parents use actual reward systems in their homes and include toothbrushing. When their kids brush their teeth, they get a sticker on their reward chart.
- Read Books that Encourage Good Oral Hygiene
Books are powerful tools for teaching. We encourage parents to use children’s literature to teach the importance of brushing teeth. These books are designed to explain why brushing your teeth is so important in a kid-friendly way. Check out this list of books to encourage your children to brush their teeth.
- Make Toothbrushing a Game
Again, you want to make toothbrushing a fun activity rather than something your kids dread. One way to do this is to make toothbrushing a game. Whether this means you encourage your kids to attack the cavity monsters with their toothbrush or see who can spit the most, allow your kids to be playful.
- Play and Pretend
Another way to get your kids to brush their teeth is to encourage them to pretend to brush their toy’s teeth. Just like kids like to play pretend doctor, they like to play pretend dentist. This will make them feel more comfortable brushing their teeth and visiting the dentist.
- Try an Augmented Reality Toothbrush System
In the last couple of years, augmented reality has made its way into oral care. You can now purchase an augmented reality toothbrush that connects to an app on your mobile device. Using gamification, the AR apps, such as the Colgate Magik Kids Augmented Reality Toothbrush, show kids where to brush.