Tips for Helping Your Children Rock at Brushing Their Teeth

Tips for Helping Your Children Rock at Brushing Their Teeth
Posted on 02/05/2018

Children need to learn proper brushing techniques and develop healthy habits from the start. Otherwise, they may suffer with tooth decay that can lead to a variety of problems. According to ABC News, children in the U.S. lost 51 million school hours to dental problems in one year. Help your kids prevent tooth decay by teaching them how to rock at brushing their teeth.

Start Kids Out Brushing at a Very Early Age

Introducing kids to excellent teeth-brushing habits at an early age can give them a strong head start. If your children aren't immediately excited about the idea of brushing their teeth, think of things that would make it fun for them. For example, you may get a small travel toothbrush for them to play brush the teeth of their dolls or stuffed animals.

When you teach your child how to brush their teeth, remember the simple things adults take for granted. For example, you need to teach kids how to spit out the toothpaste after brushing. Children also need to know they shouldn't swallow any of the toothpaste, so they may need to spit into the sink a few times after brushing.

Let Each Child Choose Their Own Toothbrush

Empower kids to feel like they have control over brushing their teeth. Start by letting them select their own toothbrush. Offer guidance for young kids. For example, help your child select a toothbrush with gentle bristles. The toothbrush should also fit their mouth and be easy to use on all their teeth.

When the toothbrush meets their needs and fits your budget, accept their choice. However, if money is an issue or kids have specific needs in a toothbrush, choose three acceptable brushes. Then let children choose one of the narrowed choices. That way, they still have some sense of control and will feel like they chose their toothbrush.

Use a Timer or Timing App to Ensure Kids Brush for Two Minutes

It's no secret that kids should brush twice daily. Children should also brush for two minutes each time they brush their teeth. Set a timer or download a timing app. If your kids don't respond well to timers, you may try to time it in a creative way. For example, you may play a song that lasts two minutes. That makes it easy to track, and the entertainment will amp up the fun factor.

You may also make a game out of it. For example, set a challenge each night that any child who brushes for the entire two minutes without complaint gets a small prize. The prize can be something as simple as a sticker or an extra bedtime story. As part of the game, you can be your own timer, counting down the entire two minutes in a fun, playful way.

Treat Brushing Like a Nightly Fun Activity

Try to create a nightly tradition where the whole family brushes their teeth together. At least brush your teeth while your kids are brushing theirs. Not only will they mimic the correct way you're brushing your teeth, but they will also be more likely to brush without a fuss.

This should be a relaxing, no-stress time for all involved. When it's simply a part of the nightly routine, kids are more likely to enjoy it. Plan to have the brushing experience just before a nightly activity that kids really enjoy. For example, you may decide to brush teeth just before you read your children bedtime stories.

Correct Bad Behaviors as Soon as They Start

When kids are getting the hang of brushing their teeth, they may start some bad habits. Don't simply ignore bad teeth-brushing habits and hope kids outgrow them. Take actions to curb them right away. It's much easier to quit a destructive activity before it become a full-fledged habit. For example, watch how your kids brush their teeth, and stop them if they brush too hard.

Call children out on neglecting to brush their teeth, too. For example, if a child lies to you and says they brushed their teeth when they didn't, don't let it slide. Discuss the importance of brushing their teeth, and supervise them for a month or so after catching kids in a lie about their dental care.

Teach Your Kids to Properly Store Their Toothbrush

Watch out for little things, such as how your kids store their toothbrushes. A toothbrush is best stored upright and out in the open where it can air dry. Also, ensure that each toothbrush is stored separately so it doesn't touch others. If a child puts a toothbrush in a closed container or toothbrush cover, the toothbrush can retain moisture and make it easier for bacteria to grow.

Finally, it's OK to figure out some things through trial and error. What motivates one child may not motivate another. Also, be sure to make regular dental check-ups and cleanings a part of your kids' dental care. At Treasured Smiles Dentistry, we are committed to providing the highest level of care and helping all patients feel at home.