When getting your young children ready for school, you may notice they are reluctant to brush their teeth or claim that they don’t need to. For children, tooth brushing and flossing are tedious, boring tasks that do not provide them any gratification. That’s why it’s important to instill in them good dental habits! If your children know how important it is to take care of their teeth, they will be more likely to appreciate the extra minutes spent in the bathroom every morning.
Before anything, make sure your kids know that tooth brushing is the same as showering and eating healthy. It ensures a healthy body, and if you don’t follow the right dental rules, you will injure your teeth. You can present this as their teeth getting a “boo-boo” if you must, but by stressing the importance you will give them a lesson for the rest of their lives.
Make it fun
To help your children appreciate tooth-brushing time and make it a treat rather than a chore, let them come with you to the store to purchase floss, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and anything else. Choosing a toothbrush with a fun character on it may encourage them to pick up the brush each night. There are also specially formulated toothpastes for children that have bubblegum and sweeter flavors as opposed to the standard mint found in adult boxes.
Your child may also want to start out with an electric toothbrush, which for some kids is like a toy. They will look forward to getting to use the device and also don’t have to do much work when starting out. Once they are comfortable brushing with an electric device you can teach them the proper way to use a manual toothbrush.
Avoid too much toothpaste
While many experts say that it is impossible for a child to swallow enough fluoride during normal toothbrushing to be dangerous, there is another reason to avoid applying more than a pea-sized dollop to their brush. Toothpaste contains a detergent-like ingredient which is responsible for the foamy quality of most toothpastes. Too much toothpaste and the material will become so foamy that proper toothbrushing cannot occur. Children may also make the process overly messy, or even choke on the abundance of liquid.
Demonstrate using your own toothbrush
Let you children watch you brush your own teeth, which will allow you to help teach them technique as well as let them know that they will continue to use the skill for the rest of their lives. Make it fun by brushing with energy, and even dancing. This will help children come to see their evening bedtime routine as something to look forward to. You can also show them the difference between your toothbrush and their own, which might encourage them to want the “bigger one”. You can then motivate them and let them know that only by accomplishing good brushing habits will they get the bigger toothbrush.
Use other dental devices
One of the most successful tools is an old-fashioned dental timer–the kind you flip upside down so sand can run through. They are available for relatively cheap and will usually be set to take two minutes. This can help your child brush because he or she can see the end-goal, as opposed to aimlessly brushing. You can also make it fun, like a race. Just make sure that your children do not brush their teeth too fast or hard in an attempt to keep up with the timer.
There are also tablets your children can swallow that will highlight areas of plaque. They will stain this area temporarily until your children brush the plaque away. Children are visual and by seeing the buildup on their own teeth they may be encouraged to remove it themselves.
Whatever you do, it is important to get your children involved in the brushing habit. You cannot cave to their demands when they say they do not want to brush their teeth at night, because this habit will follow them throughout life. It also easier for kids to get cavities, so they should be extra careful during these formative years. Call us if you need other advice on establishing a good dental regimen for your family.