While raising children can be an amazing experience, parents undoubtedly have a tough road ahead of them. Teaching kids proper manners, how to get dressed in the morning, and setting them up for success at school is a lot of work. And when it comes to teaching kids about dental hygiene, we know it isn’t always an easy road.

Thankfully, at Dr. Steven A. Lang, DDS, we have learned a few tricks to help make dental hygiene for kids fun and easy. Read on to learn more.

The Importance of Making Dental Hygiene Fun

Picture this: your child running from the bathroom, adamant that they are not going to put that toothbrush in their mouth. We get it—we’ve been there too. But, by establishing good dental habits early on and making it fun, the whole process can be less intimidating. Here are some other ways to make dental hygiene a positive daily experience.

  • Make it a game. Turn brushing teeth into a fun game. Kids love games, and they’ll want to brush their teeth more.
  • Use cool toothbrushes and tasty toothpaste. Use toothbrushes with their favorite characters and fun toothpaste flavors. This makes brushing exciting.
  • Give small rewards. Offer stickers or extra storytime when kids brush well. Rewards motivate kids to keep up the good work.
  • Watch fun videos. Find fun videos or apps about brushing teeth. Kids learn better when they’re having fun. Our favorites include Why Do We Brush Our Teeth? and Visiting the Dentist.
  • Talk about tooth troubles. Let them know, in simple terms, that not brushing can lead to cavities and toothaches. But keep it light; you don’t want to scare them.

Tips to Make Brushing Teeth Fun

We already talked about getting your kids a cool toothbrush or fun toothpaste, and we suggested a couple of fun videos, but there are other things you can do to make toothbrushing fun too. Here are a few more helpful tips.

  • Brush your teeth together. Make toothbrushing a family activity. When kids see everyone brushing their teeth, they’re more likely to join in and enjoy it.
  • Create a toothbrushing story. Invent a story where they’re the hero fighting off the “cavity monsters.” It’s fun and gets them brushing.
  • Have a sing-along. Play or sing a two-minute song to time their brushing. It’s a fun way to ensure they brush long enough, and no one says you have to use the same song every time. Work together to create a fun two-minute playlist.
  • Use a brushing calendar. Hang up a calendar in the bathroom. Let them put a sticker on it every time they brush. It’s rewarding and visual.
  • Try a toothbrushing dance. Turn it into a dance party. Put on their favorite tune and have a little dance while brushing. Be sure to reserve this bit of fun for older kids who are less likely to trip or choke on their toothbrush.
  • Have a funny-faces contest. Make funny faces in the mirror while brushing. Who can make the silliest face? It turns brushing into giggle time.
  • Change locations. Who says you have to brush in the bathroom? Have a “brushing picnic” in the living room with a cup and water to rinse.
  • Use a toothbrushing rewards chart. Besides the calendar, a chart with bigger monthly rewards for consistent brushing can be really motivating. Consider a small toy or a day outdoors as a reward. We’ve got more on this one below.

Rewarding Good Dental Hygiene Habits

So, that toothbrushing rewards chart that we mentioned above? This is a big one. Kids are motivated by rewards and positive feedback. Think back to everything you learned in school about Abraham Maslow. You’ve likely heard of the Hierarchy of Needs.

But there’s more to it than that. Maslow taught us to focus on people’s positive qualities. His theory explained that this will likely yield better outcomes than treating people as a “bag of symptoms.” And this totally applies here.

When you reward good behavior, you’re more likely to get more good behavior. Punishing poor behavior makes you more likely to build resentment and you’re left with a dissatisfied child. So, here are some ways to reward those good dental habits when you see your child practicing excellent dental hygiene.

  • Charting Praise: Celebrate every sticker they add to the Toothbrushing Rewards Chart with a big cheer or hug. Acknowledgement makes them proud.
  • Charting Milestones: Set up special milestones on the chart. Reward them with a family game night or movie time when they hit one.
  • Sticker Selection: Let them choose a fancy sticker for the chart each time they brush well. Picking stickers becomes a mini-reward itself.
  • Picking the Prize: Once they fill up a section of the chart, let them choose their next toothpaste or toothbrush. It ties choice to achievement.
  • Story Rewards: Link extra storytime to the chart. A full week of stickers? That means an extra story at bedtime on Sunday.
  • Family Show-Off: After completing a row on the chart, your child can present their progress to the family, receiving applause and maybe even a healthy treat.
  • Big Prize Draw: When the chart is completely filled, the child draws from a “Big Prize” box. This could be a new toy, book, or a day out.

We offer complete family dental care in Miami Valley, OH.

We recommend that parents bring their children in for their first dentist’s appointment around age one or when they cut their first tooth, whichever comes first. Helping your child get to know their children’s dentist in Middletown, OH, is a great way to help build confidence and make the concept of dental hygiene a bit less intimidating.

We’re committed to helping your child achieve a healthy smile. Request your child’s next appointment today.