“Did you brush your teeth?”
It’s a question all parents have asked their children. Because we realize the value of healthy teeth and a beautiful smile, we want them to learn to care for their teeth every day.
If you and your child are feeling frustrated with dental hygiene, you’re not alone. It takes time to establish healthy habits, and dentists recommend making these habits a fun activity for your children.
So, here are some fun ideas and dental tips for kids to learn how to develop healthy habits.
Make tooth brushing and flossing a normal and expected part of your child’s daily routine. Research shows that children are more confident when they have a schedule with predictable activities. The sooner you establish a habit, the more likely your child will stick to it.
You can make dental hygiene a part of your child’s routine before they can brush and floss on their own. Consistently brush their teeth for them and then slowly transition to teaching them how to brush their teeth independently as they get older.
It’s more fun to do things together. If you’re enthusiastic about brushing your own teeth, then your child is likely to mirror your excitement. You’re also more likely to persuade them to brush their teeth if they see that even grown-ups do it, too.
Set aside time for the whole family to practice dental hygiene and make it a special activity that everyone does together. If parents or older siblings treat it as something that no one wants to miss out on, younger children may participate with more eagerness.
You can use flossing and toothbrushing as opportunities to boost your child’s confidence. If they’re learning or already know how to brush their teeth, you can use this as an opportunity for them to teach you or another adult how to practice good dental hygiene.
You can pretend that you’ve forgotten how to brush your teeth, and you really would appreciate your child teaching and reminding you how to do it. You can act like you’re messing up so that your child can correct you by showing you how to brush properly with their own teeth.
Make sure to encourage your child and show them that you appreciate them for helping you floss or brush your teeth. You can even say that they’ve saved you from getting cavities. Let them feel valued so that this becomes a fun and rewarding way for them to practice good dental hygiene.
There are a lot of fun kids’ teeth cleaning products that promote good dental hygiene for kids. You can look into different kinds of toothbrushes that light up or have fun characters on them. You can also try using different toothpaste flavors.
Your children can feel more invested in their dental hygiene if they have a say in the type of products they use. For example, the next time you shop for toothbrushes, ask your children to pick out a toothbrush that they like.
There are also toothbrushing phone apps you can try to use. These apps can pair toothbrushing with songs and games to make dental hygiene time pass more quickly.
It’s best to brush your teeth for at least two minutes, but this amount of time can feel like an eternity for young children. These two minutes can be more enjoyable if you pair them with songs.
There are kids songs about dental hygiene that you can teach your children. You can also play any music you know they like. If you’re feeling extra goofy, you can dance with your children to make the experience more fun and exciting.
If your children like competitions, try turning their dental hygiene routine into a race. Set expectations and rules so that the routine feels more like a game. For example, give a specific number of times your child has to swish mouthwash before they can spit it out. You can even use a stopwatch to keep track of how long they’re brushing their teeth.
Another fun game is to pretend that sugar monsters are hiding in your children’s mouths, and the only way to get rid of them is to brush them away. Pretend that you can see some sugar monsters and start pointing at spots in the mouth where you see them hiding. You can give a specific number of sugar monsters and count down how many are left as time passes.
Try associating good dental hygiene with rewards. Have a chart posted on the bathroom mirror. Each time your children complete their dental hygiene routine, put a sticker on the chart. Once they fill up the chart with stickers, they can get a prize.
The prizes can have different values. For example, if a child completes their routine for one night, they can pick out a bedtime story. If they follow through brushing their teeth for a whole week, they can choose their next toothbrush, or you can prepare their favorite breakfast meal.
Having variety and options can keep dental hygiene practices from getting boring. You can have different types of toothbrushes and toothpaste available, and your kids can have options on which ones they want to use each day.
Introduce your child to different activities and games that they can do while they brush their teeth. Then, you can ask them which ones they want to do. On some days, they can choose to sing a song while they brush their teeth. On other days, they can use an app or play a game with you.
Oral hygiene for kids is vital, but oftentimes it’s difficult to establish healthy habits. However, dental hygiene can become a fun part of your child’s routine. Don’t hesitate to be creative and silly. Make it a fun experience for you, and your children will learn to do the same.