Trying to get kids to brush their teeth is one of those tasks sent to test your parenting skills. Tooth brushing is often met with a lot of resistance, and excuses, by kids. However research has shown just how important regular tooth brushing is for your child’s health.
So how do you get kids to brush their teeth? Well like most things with kids it’s all about encouragement. They have to feel they are getting some sort of benefit out of it. Make them feel like it’s fun and not chore. Check out our tips to help you encourage your kids to brush their teeth.
9 Tricks to Get Kids to Brush Their Teeth
1. Role Model
Kids learn better by watching. Teach you kids the proper tooth brushing technique by brushing alongside them. Keep the mood upbeat and demonstrate where to brush. If they see you being happy about it, they’ll think it’s fun to do. If they ask you to brush alongside them don’t make excuses not to, it set a bad example for them to copy.
When they are still young enough teach them the correct motion. Dentist recommend brushing in a circular motion. Compare it to a train or bike wheels turning. You can even make up a song or a little story to encourage your kids to remember the motion.
2. The Right Tools
Once kids hit toddlerhood they get really possessive of their own things. Encourage them to pick a toothbrush they love. Getting to use something they have picked will make it special for them. Make sure the toothbrush is suitable for your child’s age. You can choose from either a manual or electric toothbrush. The bristle should be soft and the head small enough to fit in your child’s mouth.
Kids will love the tickly vibrating motion of an electric toothbrush. Check out quality oral health brands such as Oral B or Braun. They create character toothbrushes which encourages kids to want to brush their teeth.
3. Choose Toothpaste
You shouldn’t use adult toothpaste for your children. Not only does it contain too much fluoride, but it can taste too strong. You can buy age specific toothpastes which have different flavours other than mint. You’ll find gel based toothpastes with fruity or bubble-gum flavour which are nicer for kids. If they do accidentally swallow some toothpaste it will taste nicer for them.
The big brands such as Colgate often put characters on the toothpaste packet. This makes it easier for kids to become independent and use their own toothpaste. Remember to check the age range of the toothpaste to ensure your kids is using the right amount of fluoride.
4. Use the Clock
Two minutes of straight brushing minute can seem like a long time to a kid. If you leave them to do it themselves they will often underestimate how long they have been brushing for. One thing kids live to use are sand timers. This really helps them to concentrate on how long they have left without constantly asking.
Timer are also great for spending an equal amount of time in each area. Spend at least one minute on the upper teeth and another on the lower teeth. You can also get apps for your phone which have countdown clock and will play a tune to entertain you kids as they brush.
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Kids love getting positive reinforcement for an action. The best way to do this is by reward good behaviour. We’re not talking about giving a treat every time they brush their teeth, it can be something small and simple. Sticker rewards charts are a great way to encourage younger kids to regularly brush.
Praising your child and complementing them on their teeth will give them a big boost. It will encourage them to continue regular brushing they feel it something they are good at. You can encourage older kids some extra play or screen time if spend just two minutes brushing. That’s a huge payoff for them.
6. Get into a Routine
If you haven’t established a routine for toothbrush start one now. Kids thrive on routines and it really help them to remember and structure their life. Your children should be brushing their teeth at least twice a day for two full minutes. Give them cues to brush such as after breakfast each day and as soon as they put on their pyjamas at night. They will soon get into the habit of doing it, they won’t even think about it.
It’s important to encourage your children to care for their toothbrush. This include keeping it free from toothpaste by rinsing. Encourage them to store it upright to help it dry and prevent bristle damage.
7. Role Play
Get your kid interested in learning about their teeth and why they should look after them. Talk about dentists and even let them dress up and play the part. Use their favourite animals or dolls as patients and let them practise brushing their teeth with a cheap clean toothbrush.
For older kids they will start learning about oral health in school. Encourage them to discuss the lesson with you and what they have learnt. These lessons are often taught in as role play with superheroes saving teeth from the evil plaque. Check out this example from Colgate.
8. Show and Tell
When your kids starts to brush for themselves it can be difficult to tell if they have brushed everywhere. This biggest tell-tale is the old breath smell test. However they may still have missed small areas.
You can buy disclosing tablets which the kids chew and it dye the areas with plaque. They show your kid where they have missed and the areas they need to concentrate on. These tablets are inexpensive and the ingredients are safe for children to use. Your kids will love them and the challenge of making the cool colours disappear from their mouths.
9. Use Mouthwash
If your kids hasn’t quite got the hang of tooth brushing, you can boost your kids’ protection with mouthwash. This tip is for kids over six as it recommended you wait until this age to use mouthwash. The reason is to prevent you kid using too much fluoride.
Kids love to swill the mouthwash around and the spit it out. It’s a great way to get extra bit of lingering food from the mouth if they were missed with brushing. If your kid has braces they require extra cleaning and mouthwash can help give a better clean around the brackets. Remember to opt for a kid’s mouthwash as adult ones can be strongly flavoured.
If you’ve tried all of these tips and your child is still reluctant to brush, take them to a dentist. Often kids will listen to a health professional as they are an authority figure who isn’t a nagging parent.