This post was written by Janet Torres, Community Relations Coordinator in Moline, IL.
Creating good oral health habits at an early age helps children maintain a strong healthy smile throughout their lifetime.
However, a parent’s best efforts to educate their children on the importance of brushing are at times met with tears and resistance. The following tips can help make daily teeth brushing be a fun activity.
The first step in helping your child maintain long term dental health is to ensure you are using proper brushing techniques and relaying these techniques to your children.
Go Shopping Together
The American Dental Association recommends replacing toothbrushes every 4 to 6 months. Shopping is a great excuse to reward children for good brushing habits. Allowing a child to choose a toothbrush with their favorite character is a sure way to make brushing fun. Ensure that the toothbrush is an appropriate size for their age and is sealed with the American Dental Association Seal of Approval.
Parents can also let their children pick their toothpaste as long as it’s ADA approved. Toothpaste comes in a variety of fun flavors and packaging that is geared towards children. Ask the dentist about appropriate toothpastes for children.
Make it a Routine
Keep track of twice daily brushing with a fun calendar, coloring page or punch card. There are online resources, such as coloring calendars available for download. We created our own calendar which you can download here
Another option is to draw a calendar on the bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker so that the kids can draw a smiley face every morning and night that they brush. Getting to “draw on the walls” will always be something that children look forward to doing before bed.
Teaching through role play can be effective as well. The child can pretend to be the dentist by having them examine parents’ teeth for “Sugar Bugs” and letting them brush their teeth. Then, switch roles to ensure that the child’s teeth get a proper brushing too. This tactic may also serve in helping prepare for their dental checkups and squash any fears of the dentist.
Children are being exposed to technology at very young ages and parents can use this to their advantage. Apps such as “Brush DJ” offer a selection of fun two minute songs (the recommended time for brushing) that children can listen to while they brush. The alternative would be to create a playlist of favorite songs for brush time. The app “Star Teeth” allows kids to choose a character that offers words of encouragement while they brush.
Another way to make brushing fun is through reading. Parents can go to the local library and pick up a book on brushing that is about two minutes in length. (Yes, they exist!) Get story time and brush time done by reading to children as they brush their teeth. Parents can also get creative and make up a story about “Plaque Monsters” and “Super Brushing Kid” …using characters that they know their children will love.