Brushing Teeth Tips for Children: Encouraging a Lifelong Love for Dental Care
Good oral hygiene habits are essential for maintaining healthy teeth and gums, but many kids struggle to brush their teeth. Alarming statistics reveal the prevalence of cavities among children and adolescents, highlighting the urgency to instill a love for brushing at an early age. Over half of children between 6 and 8 have experienced cavities in their primary teeth, while an equal proportion of adolescents ages 12 to 19 have encountered cavities in their permanent teeth. So parents and caregivers must discover practical strategies to encourage their children to enjoy brushing their teeth, laying the foundation for a lifetime of good oral health.
It should come as no surprise that many kids don’t like to brush their teeth. And those that try often don’t know how to do it correctly. One common obstacle is the need for a consistent toothbrushing routine. Children thrive on consistency, and without a structured routine, they may struggle to prioritize dental care.
Additionally, sensory factors can contribute to children’s resistance. Some kids may feel that the toothpaste’s taste or the toothbrush bristles’ texture makes the experience uncomfortable or unpleasant. And these challenges aren’t necessarily limited to children; individuals of any age can encounter similar difficulties in maintaining oral hygiene.
Thankfully, it is possible to help your child learn to love brushing their teeth. We’ll tell you how.
Strategies and Brushing Teeth Tips for Kids
Parents can make brushing teeth a smoother and more enjoyable experience for their kids with a few practical strategies and brushing tips. Parents can encourage their kids to embrace the tooth-happy habit by establishing a consistent routine and providing positive reinforcement. Remember, brushing with your kids will become easier with patience and persistence.
1. Start from day one.
If you are a parent-to-be, know that you can prioritize your child’s oral health from the day that they are born. Softly cleanse their gums using a clean, moist washcloth or an infant toothbrush for gentle wiping. Once their teeth emerge above the gumline, start brushing them for at least two minutes twice a day. Add flossing into the routine as soon as two or more teeth are too close together for bristles alone to effectively clean between them. And if you have a toddler or preschooler and you’re just reading this now, don’t worry. Simply start today.
2. Make it a routine.
Turning toothbrushing into a routine greatly facilitates the process for children. Incorporating enjoyable elements, such as the Elmo toothbrush song, can make the experience more engaging and entertaining. By infusing fun into the routine, children are more likely to look forward to brushing their teeth and to establish a positive association with this essential habit.
3. Let your kid call the shots (kind of).
Empowering children with some control during toothbrushing can foster their cooperation. Allowing them to pick their preferred toothbrush color and toothpaste flavor gives them a sense of ownership and personalization. Giving them the freedom to brush or floss first encourages responsibility and autonomy in their oral care routine. Additionally, letting children choose whether to brush their teeth first or have a parent do it empowers them and reinforces their growing independence.
4. Read books about teeth together.
Kids are naturally curious, and it can be hard to get their buy-in if they don’t understand why something is important. Since reading to kids is also high on every parent’s priority list, why not read some books about oral health for kids? Some tried-and-true favorites include The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist, Just Going to the Dentist (Little Critter), and The Tooth Book.
5. Brush side-by-side.
Brushing teeth side-by-side or as a family brings numerous benefits. It creates a bonding opportunity, allowing parents to lead by example and reinforce the importance of oral hygiene. Additionally, it promotes accountability and ensures that everyone follows a consistent brushing routine, improving oral health for the entire family.
6. Transition time.
Assisting children with brushing and flossing until they are at least 8 can help set the stage for good oral hygiene habits. Start by taking turns brushing, with you, the parent, providing guidance. Then, gradually transition to your child brushing first, then check for thoroughness once they’re done. As your child becomes more independent, asking if they remembered to brush can help reinforce responsibility.
Sticker charts can make the transition fun and rewarding, while older kids may find toothbrushing apps on their phones, such as Brush DJ and KidHab, appealing for tracking their progress and maintaining consistent habits. By gradually shifting from guided assistance to independent brushing with parental oversight, you can nurture your child’s oral hygiene skills and foster a sense of ownership in their dental care routine.
To help your child love brushing their teeth, be sure to give them a voice.
Teaching your child to express concerns about their teeth is crucial. Encourage open communication and assure them that you are there to support and address their worries. Additionally, teach your child to inform you if they experience tooth pain or a toothache, as you can provide the necessary assistance and help them feel better. Empowering them to speak up about their oral health concerns fosters a positive relationship with dental care and ensures their overall well-being. Plus, it helps make oral health a welcome discussion in the home.
Nurturing a Lifetime of Healthy Smiles
By implementing these strategies and tips, you will pave the way for your child to develop a lifelong love for brushing their teeth. From establishing routines and offering choices to gradually transitioning to independent brushing, you can empower your child to take ownership of their oral health. Encouraging open communication and addressing any concerns they may have about dental visits or tooth pain will further strengthen their dental care experience.
Take the first step toward your child’s continued oral health by scheduling their next dental cleaning and oral evaluation with Dr. Steven A. Lang, DDS. Contact our office today to book an appointment and ensure their smile stays bright and healthy. Remember, instilling positive dental habits early on sets the foundation for a healthy smile that will last a lifetime.