Get your kids excited and comfortable with taking care of their teeth.
Nothing warms a parent’s heart quite like seeing their kids smile, and as a parent, you want your children to have their best smiles possible. Unfortunately, sometimes kids don’t share the same enthusiasm for brushing and flossing teeth as their parents do…but we have good news!
By changing up your kids’ oral care routines and adding in playful elements, you can get them excited about caring for their teeth and encourage them to develop lifelong healthy habits. Starting off their oral health journey in a positive manner can help your children grow to be more comfortable with brushing and flossing their teeth in the future.
Here are 8 great tips for helping kids of all ages grow to enjoy caring for the teeth and have some fun doing so.
1. Start them on an oral care routine when they’re young.
The sooner kids get used to taking care of their teeth, the better! That means starting oral care at home when your baby’s teeth first start to come in. Twice a day or after meals, you can use a warm, damp washcloth to gently wipe over your baby’s gums and teeth. Once actual teeth begin to erupt, you can switch to an infant toothbrush.
Make these sessions an upbeat and positive experience. For example, if your baby is already a little fussy and cranky, it may be more beneficial to wait to clean their teeth until they are in a playful, happy mood.
2. Keep up regular dental visits after they get their first tooth.
Your baby’s first dental appointment should take place either when their first tooth erupts or by their first birthday. Although it might not seem like there’s a lot for the dentist to look at, getting youngsters used to visiting the dentist regularly from a very young age is highly beneficial.
Frequent visits help future dental appointments go easier and the dentist will also catch trouble spots like cavities before they become an issue. Best of all, your child will have a chance to develop a friendship with their dentist.
3. Create a story to get your kids excited about brushing their teeth.
Sometimes kids can get confused about why it’s important to brush their teeth. An imaginative way to get your kids excited about brushing and remind them why it’s important is to create a story behind it. A classic example of this is the “sugar bugs” tactic.
Tell your child a story about how sugar bugs (bacteria and plaque) are in their teeth and only they have the power to fight off the bad guys with their handy dandy toothbrush.
4. Make a weekly sticker chart to track their teeth brushing.
Kids can’t resist stickers, and we don’t blame them! Something about a shiny gold star can make anyone feel proud of themselves for accomplishing a task. You can borrow the same idea popularized by schoolteachers by creating a weekly sticker chart for your kids.
Print out a sheet with the days of the week complete with two spots (AM and PM) for stickers to be placed. As a bonus, you can even come up with a tempting prize if your child fills in all their sticker spots.
5. Let them pick out a fun toothbrush and a colorful toothpaste.
Regularly switching up their toothbrushes and toothpaste is a tried-and-true way of getting kids excited about brushing their teeth. Every three months or so, let your kids pick out their own new toothbrush and a new tube of toothpaste. Look for ADA recommended products.
Some other ideas include upgrading your kids to electric toothbrushes, adding in a mouth rinse for older kids, or rotating between different toothpaste flavors to keep things interesting.
6. Time their teeth brushing with a snippet of their favorite song.
Using a two-minute timer is really effective, but it isn’t the most fun option. An awesome alternative is to play a two-minute snippet of their favorite song in place of using a standard timer. You might even turn it into a little dance party, so long as there’s plenty of brushing going along with the dancing.
A similar idea is to watch something like a Two Minute Tales video while brushing.
7. Make brushing before bedtime a family event.
Brushing at any time of the day is beneficial, but brushing teeth before bed is particularly crucial for preventing decay while kids are asleep for eight to 10 hours. To ensure no one skips bedtime brushing (including you!), make it a family event by brushing together.
Brushing together as a family gives you an opportunity to show your kids how important oral care is with a “monkey see, monkey do” approach. It also serves as a way to make sure older, more independent kids are brushing thoroughly and using proper technique.
8. Read books for kids about dental care and the dentist.
Reading an educational book is a great way to get kids more intrigued about taking care of their teeth. Helpful books about the dentist can also help nervous kids feel more confident during their next appointment.
Some great titles include:
- The Tooth Book: A Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums
- The Tooth Book (Dr. Seuss)
- Brush Your Teeth, Please (pop-up book)
- The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist
The team at Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry is ready to help your kids get their best smiles.
Whether your toddler is due for their first appointment or it’s been six months since your child’s last visit, the Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry team is eager to see your family in our office.
Our office is once again open for all appointments. We are also offering virtual consultation appointments via Zoom. To schedule your child’s appointment, please call our office or fill out this online form. If your child hasn’t seen us before, visit our Patient Forms portal to find New Patient forms and other important documents.