From discomfort that they cannot express to a simple lack of interest or understanding of its importance, many children go through periods where brushing their teeth is the last thing they want to do.
As their parent, you are aware of the numerous benefits of proper brushing and the consequences of neglecting it. The question, then, is how to encourage your child to embrace this important habit.
The answer is pretty simple: make it fun!
How to make brushing fun
It is not always easy getting your little ones excited about brushing their teeth. They may absolutely dread doing it, and if left unaddressed, brushing teeth can become the worst part of your (and their) morning and nightly routines.
Follow these tips and tricks to have your child brushing their teeth— and you grinning ear-to-ear— in no time!
Give them a choice
Have a conversation with a child, and you will quickly learn that children are exceptionally opinionated. However adorable, it can also be used in your favor. Ask your child to choose their own toothbrush, toothpaste, and even floss. An outing to the store where the rainbow assortment of toothbrushes and many flavored tubes of toothpaste can be an exciting adventure for your child—almost as exciting as picking out a new toy. This little bit of freedom in choosing which they want can incite an excitement to brush when they return home. You’ll barely make it through the door before they’re asking you to open their new supplies and rushing off to the bathroom to test them out!
Allowing them to select a toothbrush featuring their favorite color or cartoon character can make brushing much more fun for them. In fact, by giving them a choice, you are gifting them the chance to look forward to teeth brushing time.
There are also kid-focused toothpaste brands and flosses that come in entertaining flavors, colors, and more. Sometimes, a certain flavor might not be the biggest hit with your child. It can be a hit and miss until you find a flavor that they prefer.
You should also consider an electric toothbrush. Kids will love how technological and grown-up these toothbrushes seem. It can also dramatically improve your child’s brushing technique.
Make it a game
Games are fun, motivational, and can be incredibly effective in inspiring and reinforcing good brushing habits. Whether you are setting a timer for two minutes, turning on a goofy song, and having a dance party or using stickers and a calendar to reinforce good brushing habits, imaginative games will make brushing something worth the excitement.
If your child has a tablet or an iPad, or even if you just want to use your phone, there are an assortment of apps in partnership with companies like Oral B, who have fun teeth brushing apps you can download. This allows your child to think he or she is playing a game while a timer is running and bubbles are slowly washing away from the screen (like it is being brushed away) to reveal a sticker. It is both encouraging and fun!
As an added bonus, participate in the fun activities with your child. It will turn a dreaded routine into a fun family tradition!
Observe and encourage
While some kids may dislike brushing their teeth because it is an inconvenience or they fail to see the point, others may experience genuine discomfort that they simply cannot communicate clearly with you (like cavities, impaction, or gum irritants).
Be sure to observe your child’s behavior when brushing. If they seem uncomfortable or noticeably sensitive, then a quick visit to a friendly family dentist may help. If your child is uncomfortable, then it could be something minor like a cavity, but it’s also possible that it is something more serious (like dental trauma or infection). If you observe your child brushing and notice they’re uncomfortable, then sometimes a quick run to the dentist is the best choice.
If your child seems confident and ready, then you may want to start giving them more independence. Encourage them to brush their own teeth by complimenting their good work and rewarding them for a job well done! Choosing the appropriate toothbrush for their level of expertise is an important step in increasing their freedom.
Stick to a routine
Sometimes with little ones, developing a fun routine and sticking to it can make the biggest difference in the world especially for something as mundane (but necessary) as a morning and nightly round of brushing.
The more your child recognizes brushing their teeth as a non-negotiable and totally harmless part of their day, the more they will start viewing it as just a regular part of their morning or nighttime routine. Try sticking to this routine with your kiddo. Join them for tooth-brushing time, and explain why it is so important they stick to it.
Make positive connections
Going to the dentist can be an intimidating experience for a child. That fear can translate to resistance to simple things like brushing. To help eliminate the possibility of those feelings ever taking root, it is important to make positive connections between your child and their dentist.
You will want to talk up the dentist, go into the office with your child, and make sure you are stressing that regular dental appointments are actually really cool! The less scary you can make it, the better.
As a parent, such decisions can feel like high-pressure situations. A child-friendly dentist can go a long way toward encouraging good brushing habits and toward making brushing fun!
For more information
Brushing teeth does not need to be difficult. It can be fun! For more information, contact Arkansas Family Dental at (501)-683-8886 to schedule an appointment or ask any questions you may have. We look for