As a parent, you have an endless list of responsibilities to handle each day. At the top of the list of responsibilities, of course, is teaching your children how to keep themselves safe, healthy, and happy as they grow.
Teaching your kids to take care of their teeth isn’t always a simple task. Many children avoid brushing and flossing, rush through the process carelessly, or scream and thrash through the entire experience.
Use these tips to help your children understand the importance of brushing and flossing so that they can maintain a strong, beautiful smile even when you’re not watching.
Tip #1: Pick a Fun Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Take your child shopping for a toothbrush and toothpaste that she picks herself. Depending on your child’s age, there are many different character-themed toothbrush sets, from Paw Patrol and Superman to Mickey Mouse and My Little Pony.
Although it’s simple, the character theme will help encourage your child to brush with excitement instead of dread. Better yet, since toothbrushes should be changed every few months, your child can select a new toothbrush at regular intervals. When presented in the right way, your child will start to feel like brushing is a reward, not a chore.
Be sure that your child selects a toothpaste that matches her age. It’s recommended that children under the age of three use fluoride-free “training toothpastes” so that it’s safe if they swallow instead of spit. If your child is over the age of 3, she can choose from a variety of kid-friendly fluoride toothpastes. Flavors range from cinnamon and mint to bubblegum and berry.
According to the ADA, children under the age of 3 only need a “smear” of toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice. Children older than three can graduate to a pea-sized amount on their toothbrush.
Tip #2: Introduce the Sugar Monsters
Even if your child knows how to brush and floss, the routine won’t be meaningful until you explain why brushing matters. This is a great opportunity to introduce the Sugar Monsters. Explain, in language your child can understand, that the sugar in her food sits all around her teeth and creates cavities unless it is brushed away.
As she brushes each morning a night, sing a song or remind your child of the sugar monsters so that she understands the urgent reason she’s spending time brushing. You can even suggest that your child is the superhero who is responsible for brushing away all of the sugar monsters with her toothbrush.
Tip #3: Set a Timer
Children should brush for two minutes in the morning and two minutes at night, but as most parents know, it can be challenging to keep young children focused on a single task for 120 seconds.
In order to ensure your child brushes for as long as possible, use a favorite song, story, or another form of entertainment to help your child pass the time. You can also try a brushing app, such as the Toothsavers Brushing Game app, to encourage your child to brush properly. Depending on your child’s age and personality, a simple timer could also do the trick.
Tip #4: Create a Motivational Rewards Chart
If all else fails, create a motivational rewards chart to give your child the encouragement she needs to brush properly, twice a day. It’s easy to find premade rewards charts online, or you can make your own with your child’s input. The goal is to help your child keep track of her oral hygiene tasks, remain consistent, and enjoy rewards for her efforts.
Tip #5: Find a Talented Pediatric Dentist
Teaching your children to take care of their teeth requires strategic at-home techniques as well as in-office visits. However, most children don’t connect with regular dentists trained to treat adults. Do some research and find a talented, highly-trained pediatric dentist in your area.
At All Smiles Children’s Dentistry, Dr. Houri cares deeply about each individual child and her specific needs. We pride ourselves in treating our patients with the utmost compassion and care., and we believe in tending to our young dental patients in the least invasive way possible. Our goal is always to have a tear-free appointment that spurs confidence and excitement for the next office visit.
This is exactly why All Smiles Children’s Dentistry created the All Smile Cavity Free Club. This program promotes children to diligently brush and floss in order to earn small toy prizes, fancy brushing tools, a certificate, photograph on the wall, and entry into a quarterly contest. Our pediatric dental experts understand that children perform best when they can see, feel, and understand the benefits of their efforts.
Call All Smiles Children’s Dentistry today to schedule an appointment and learn more about teaching your kids to take care of their teeth. With an experienced dentist’s help, your child can enjoy a beautiful smile for the rest of her life.