How to Keep Kids Interested in Brushing Their Teeth
Why do kids fight so much when it comes to brushing their teeth? Because it’s super boring, that’s why. In a world filled with video games, television, and toys why would kids want to waste time standing in front of the bathroom mirror brushing their teeth? Below I have created a list of things that I think will help to make teeth brushing a pleasurable experience for kids while also helping them develop good dental hygiene habits. I can’t promise that these methods are going to be absolutely fool proof, but I hope that they help make your nightly rituals go a bit smoother.
Can You Hold This For Me?
Cute toothbrush holders—Part of keeping a child interested in anything (keeping anyone interested, really) is creating a great setting. This is especially true with something as mundane as brushing your teeth. It’s important to keep it fun. One way that I suggest doing that is by purchasing a cute/fun toothbrush holder for your child (and/or for yourself.) They sell all kinds of interesting toothbrush holders nowadays. You can get the cups that sit on the counter that match the bathroom décor (this is especially fun if your child has his/her own themed bathroom) or you can buy the holders that suction to the mirror. They often look like little animals when they are closed and housing your child’s toothbrush. I’m an adult and I have a panda toothbrush holder stuck to my mirror and I love it! The best part about it is that it was a gift from my niece.
Cute toothbrushes—This is directly tied in with the first point. Buying a cute and fun toothbrush for your child helps set up a pleasurable atmosphere to surround teeth brushing thus creating a place that they would like to return to after meals and especially before bed. Taking children to the store and allowing them make their own decision when it comes to choosing between Superman or Spongebob helps to instill a sense of responsibility and pride within them about their dental care (plus it really is fun).
Helpful flossing tools—Let’s face it, flossing is not fun. It’s tedious and rather annoying. Now imagine what that’s like for a kid. Boring! Exactly. So, as adults, it is our responsibility to make sure that our kids floss. A great way to do that is by purchasing fun flossing tools. You can buy flossing aides that have easy to hold handles designed specifically for tiny hands. Could you imagine trying to help a four-year-old wrap regular floss around their fingers? I predict a whole lot of frustration. With the fun flossing aides there is no mess and they are easy to use so the frustration level in your little one (and you!) should be limited. The best part? They have flossers in the shape of dinosaurs! How cool is that?
Plaque revealing rinse—To most adults this is probably going to sound gross, but kids love gross, especially boys. This rinse turns the plaque on your child’s teeth blue (or some other color) and allows them to see the areas where they really need to focus with their toothbrush. It can also serve as a product of encouragement because it reveals how good their brushing skills are. If there is little to no plaque highlighted on their teeth then they know that they have been doing a good job. That would show them the benefits of their good technique. One of the best ways to encourage anyone is to show them the positive results of their hard work.
That's My Favorite!
Sparkly Toothpaste—This one is really just for fun. Brushing your teeth has to be so much cooler when your toothpaste sparkles. Another thing you can do with toothpaste is to buy one that has their favorite cartoon character on the tube. Purchasing a product with their favorite characters on it helps to create an atmosphere that they would be interested in returning to repeatedly.
Do You Have the Time?
A timer they can watch while they brush—One of the hardest parts about teeth brushing for kids is probably how long it takes (or seems to take). When you’re little a minute feels like an hour especially when you’re doing something lame like brushing your teeth. It’s important that kids spend the necessary amount of time on their teeth when they brush. Trying to convince them that it’s not enough just to run the brush over the front ones isn’t going to be easy, but if you purchase a timer for them it helps them learn the appropriate amount of time it takes for proper hygiene. Having a timer for older kids will also help them feel more independent because they might not want you watching over their shoulder anymore. Allowing them the freedom of the timer might help to make them feel more grown up and take more pride in their own hygiene habits.
Lead by example—Never forget that everything you do is under constant surveillance when you have children. You are their hero and it is important that you never lead them astray. This can most certainly be applied to dental hygiene. Why not pick a time at night where you and your child(ren) can brush your teeth together? There’s really no better way to lead by example than to be right there with them making sure that they are doing a good job. This togetherness while brushing while they are young will help them later when they get to the age when they start brushing on their own time (you know, when you start being lame and embarrassing).
Scare tactics—If all else fails you can always scare the little ones straight. Let them know that if they don’t start taking care of their teeth now they will end up with giant false teeth like Grandpa!
Just kidding! You don’t have to scare your kids into brushing their teeth, but it is important to explain the benefits of good dental health as well as the dangers of not taking care of your teeth.
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The worst thing I’ve ever heard someone say when it came to their child’s teeth was, “it doesn’t matter, the baby ones are going to fall out anyway.” I couldn’t believe that they really used that as an argument. It doesn’t matter if those teeth are destined to fall out; teaching your kids proper dental care from a young age will help shape their future habits when their adult teeth come in. If you start good dental hygiene habits early you can never go wrong.
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