Tooth decay is the most prevalent disease affecting children under the age of five, yet it is almost entirely preventable. By brushing twice per day for two minutes at a time, children can significantly reduce their chances of getting a cavity, and help themselves earn a healthy adult smile.
However, it can be difficult for new brushers to enjoy brushing their teeth, and brush long enough to make a difference.
We can’t brush our child’s teeth forever & even though many dental organizations say seven years of age is a good age to stop, you might be hesitant. You might be thinking, “What if they miss some spots or swallow the toothpaste or don`t like it at all?” Don’t let the bedtime nightmare of your children that just won’t brush their teeth keep you up at night.
Motivating kids to brush their teeth is not always a simple task. Learning how to maintain proper oral hygiene takes time and to be honest is not always inherently fun for children. It is critical however, for kids from a young age, to learn to, practice, and understand the importance of brushing their teeth properly and often. In fact, the daily routine of brushing one’s teeth is essential to overall health in general and must be instilled in children at a young age, even if this is difficult to achieve. If your child is having a difficult time learning or remembering to practice good oral hygiene skills.
If you find yourself fighting your kids to brush their teeth, you are not alone. Brushing can become a battle in some homes, but here are some tips we have gleaned over the years from great parents who have tackled the tooth brushing battle. Remember that if your child possesses the dexterity to tie their own shoes, they can brush their own teeth effectively.
Step 1: You are the example; so set a good one
We don’t come into the world and know exactly what to do in every situation & so when we’re young we look to our peers around us for the answers. We copy them & put our own spin on it as we go along. Now that we are the peers, it’s our turn to be the example. We better be a good one.
If & when you are brushing your child’s teeth, don’t stop there. Make sure to brush your teeth in front of them. Try handing them a dry toothbrush when they are old enough to grip the handle so that they can copy your movements. This will be great starter practice for them for when they are finally ready to brush their own teeth. It will also show them that cleaning our teeth is a part of everyone’s routine every day.
Lighten the mood during that time by making brushing your teeth a game. Try to see which one of you can make the most brushing foam or have a special dance, song or fun activity. This will help them associate cleaning their teeth with the fun they are having & they will be more likely to enjoy participating in the regular daily teeth cleaning routine. You might enjoy it better too.
Step 2: Teach the Right Technique
Help your child brush their teeth at least twice a day—especially after breakfast and before bedtime. You will need to brush for them until they are old enough to handle the toothbrush on their own, usually around the age of 6. Even then, it’s a good idea to supervise to be sure your child is brushing thoroughly and using the right amount of toothpaste.
Remind your child that it’s important to clean all teeth, not just those up front. Brush all tooth surfaces (top, front and back), using short, gentle strokes. Pay special attention to back teeth and along the gum line, turning the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle.
Teach your child to take their time when cleaning teeth. They should brush for at least two to three minutes.
And don’t forget to brush their tongue to remove bacteria and keep breath fresh.
Step 3: Get positive
Frustration can get the best of you if your child is slow to catch on to the brushing routine. Keep positive because hope is not lost & your child can still acquire good brushing habits.
Even though it is tempting to use a drilling shot-filled dentist visit as a form of brushing motivation; do not do it. If getting them to brush two times a day is hard; try hauling them in for their next annual or semi-annual check-up. The dentist shouldn’t be a punishment.
In place of punishment try rewards. Have a check sheet on the back of the bathroom door & check off each time your child brushes their teeth. Make it a goal for the week & offer a smile reward of their choosing from some parent pre-selected alternatives. The main way to get your child(ren) to enjoy brushing their teeth is to make it a fun activity. When you make it fun they will look forward to it & be well on their way to making positive dental decisions for years to come.
Step 4: Offer rewards
Rewarding your children for brushing twice a day, 7 days a week is a good way to acknowledge your child’s hard work and diligence at adopting the habit.
Until your child’s teeth begin to touch one another, they do not need to learn to floss. However, when it becomes time for your child to do so, a great way to help them begin flossing on their own is by using kid’s flossers and adapting these 4 tips to flossing. Even though your children’s teeth are baby teeth, fixing tooth aches and cavities are expensive at any age. If you help your child get into the habit of brushing and flossing at an early age, you will avoid the cost of fixing their rotted teeth and will prepare your child to take care of their adult teeth by forming habits for lifelong oral health.
Preventative dental care is essential to help children build good dental habits at a young age. Fortunately, the most important elements of dental hygiene are as simple as brushing and flossing your child’s teeth every day.