Parents look forward to seeing their kids in the morning and they enjoy tucking them in at night, but one part of getting them ready for their day or for bed is notoriously difficult. We’re talking, of course, of getting them to brush their teeth. (Don’t panic.)
- Lean on your child’s dentist or hygienist. Here’s the deal: Parents lecture their kids about everything all day long, and that’s critical and a necessary part of parenting. Unfortunately, that also means that your kids are going to tune you out or rebel against you at least some of the time. If you’re having a tough time getting your kids to brush, and understanding the importance of brushing, relying on an outside expert can help. Tell your dental professional, privately, what’s been going on, and he/she will take it from there. Then, come brushing time, you can remind your kids about “what Dr. XYZ said.”
- Since you probably only bring your child to the dentist twice per year, there are going to be lots of times you’re on your own. Kids do well with analogies. A lot of parents find it useful to tell their children about the yucky “tooth bugs” (aka harmful bacteria) that live in their mouths until they brush them away and rinse them down the drain. After all, bacteria are to teeth as ants are to sugar. There are lots of fun songs and videos (cute; not scary) that help drive this message home. You can find them easily by searching throughYouTube or Colgate.
- We are lucky to live in an era of amazing technology and products. Children’s dental products are no exception. There are toothbrushes of countless variations and colors and toothpastes flavored like bubblegum, cherry, or bananas. There are even flavorless options available for kids who prefer them. Have your children can choose what they like… just make sure the bristles are soft and the toothpaste has fluoride.
- Get silly! Kids like doing anything their parents like doing, so brush together and make a game out it. See who can brush longest or sing the most clearly. Remember a 2-3 minute brushing is recommended.
- Get artistic. No matter who you are or how old, everyone agrees on this: Music makes everything more fun. There are free applications you can download to your phone that have music and timers to accompany tooth brushing, or you can just play your and your children’s favorites. Don’t forget to throw in some dance moves and use the toothbrush as your microphone as you go. Once you’re done, inspire your kids with a visual. Make a chart that shows off their success. They can check the day and time or apply a fun sticker when they’re done. Each week of stickers can mean a prize like a fun snack, an extra story, or a balloon.
- Have them teach. It’s hard to know what children love more: teaching or learning, and it’s important that parents keep this in mind. Invest in a child’s dental kit and have them practice on their doll or stuffed animal “patients.” Encourage them to teach a buddy to brush by watching them do it. This creates a fun ritual for them.
Keep in mind that if a child still resists brushing, there could be something bigger troubling him or her – an allergy to a toothpaste ingredient, a sore mouth, or perhaps an experience where he swallowed too much toothpaste or choked on a toothbrush. Talk to your child reassuringly and make sure that if you’re not taking him or her to a dentist regularly, that you start.
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What are your methods for getting your young ones to brush? Share with us in your comments below!