Do your kids hate brushing their teeth? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone. Most parents are all too familiar with the bedtime battle over dental hygiene.
It’s hard to reason with children about their brushing habits. They don’t understand why it’s important to have clean teeth, and they’d rather keep playing or watching television. Forcing the issue every night gets exhausting.
If the simple mention of a toothbrush is enough to set off a tantrum in your household, it might be time to make brushing teeth fun. Does that sound impossible? Not to worry – there are a few tried and true tricks.
Keep reading to learn why dental care is important for kids and how to add some fun to your children’s teeth cleaning routine.
Why Should Kids Brush Their Teeth?
How important is dental care for kids, if their baby teeth are going to fall out in a few years? Very important, according to dentists. Regular brushing should begin as soon as the first tooth appears.
Unhealthy baby teeth lead to unhealthy adult teeth. Dental hygiene keeps the gums in great condition for growing a permanent set of pearly whites.
Brushing your children’s teeth also prevents cavities, which need to be filled at any age. Fillings are expensive and uncomfortable, even at a pediatric dentist, so it’s best if your little ones can avoid them.
Additionally, developing good brushing habits at a young age will set your kids up for a lifetime of healthy teeth. Let’s take a look at a few ways to make the experience enjoyable for them.
Buy a Fun Toothbrush
Let your child choose a fun, colorful toothbrush that seems more like a toy than a torture device. They will look forward to using a brush that features their favorite animal or cartoon character.
If you strive to be eco-friendly, even biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes come in bright colors for the younger crowd.
Electric toothbrushes designed for kids can also be exciting. There are models that light up, flash, and play music. Some pair with an app that can track brushing habits and congratulate your child for a job well done.
Try a New Toothpaste
While you’re in the dental hygiene aisle, check out the children’s toothpaste selection as well. The packaging and flavor of toothpaste can make a big difference for kids who are reluctant to brush.
Toothpaste is inexpensive, so it’s worth trying a few to find one your child loves. Maybe your child hates the taste of mint but loves strawberry. Remember that only a tiny dab of toothpaste is recommended for kids under 3 years old since they are likely to swallow it.
Lead by Example
For better or worse, kids love to copy adults. Lead by example to help them develop healthy habits. Join them at teeth brushing time and show them how it’s done.
Acting skills come in handy here. Exaggerate your movements as you brush your teeth, tongue, and gums. Make a big deal about showing them how clean your mouth is at the end.
You could also invite your child to help you brush your teeth. Sometimes practicing on someone else can help them feel more comfortable with the process.
Play a Song
Little ones love music, so why not make it part of their teeth cleaning program? Let your child choose a song they love and play it on your smartphone for two minutes while they brush.
Sing along, dance, and be silly as you encourage them to keep going. Two minutes seems like an eternity when you’re young, but laughter and entertainment can help pass the time. Be sure to clap and celebrate when they finish.
Make It a Game
Teeth brushing games are a great way to add fun to your child’s bedtime routine. Many parents recommend playing Sugar Bugs.
Tell your child to imagine their mouth is full of tiny sugar bugs that can only be destroyed by brushing. While they scrub their teeth, let them know how much progress they’re making. At the end of two minutes, exclaim that they have defeated the sugar bugs!
Red light, green light can also work as a teeth brushing game. As your child brushes, cue them to stop and start by saying “red light!” and “green light!” every few seconds. The active segments of the game can add up quickly to keep them brushing for a full two minutes.
If your child is still resistant to dental hygiene after trying these games, consider playing dentist. Encourage them to sit back in a chair while you gently clean their teeth, then ask them to spit in the sink at the end.
Create a Reward System
A reward system is a classic way to encourage good behavior. Design a chart or calendar to hang in your bathroom, then add a sticker after each successful teeth brushing session.
The actual reward is up to you. When they reach 10 stickers, offer a special treat from the toy store, a dance party, or an extra story before bed. Be creative and change the prize often to keep things interesting.
If you already have a chore chart in your home, there’s no need to make a new one. You can easily add dental care to your child’s list of responsibilities.
Make Brushing Teeth Fun to Avoid Tantrums
Most parents are relieved to learn that dental hygiene doesn’t have to be a fight. Use these ideas to make brushing teeth fun and bedtime will get easier for everyone involved.
Don’t expect your children to embrace brushing their teeth overnight. It takes time, and you’ll need to experiment to figure out what works for your family. With a little effort and inventiveness, dental care can become something to look forward to.
In addition to practicing good dental hygiene at home, children need regular cleanings and checkups at a dentist for kids. Contact us today to learn more and make an appointment.