According to the CDC, about 20% of children suffer from tooth decay. The best way to treat tooth decay is to prevent it from happening in the first place. But if you’ve ever had to beg a toddler or adolescent to brush their teeth, you know it’s easier said than done.
Oral hygiene doesn’t have to turn into a power struggle. As a family dentist, we specialize in educating kids on caring for their teeth by using fun and engaging techniques.
Follow these tips to create a dental hygiene routine your kids can look forward to.
Tip #1: Brush Together & Make it Fun
Young children love to imitate their parents. Use this to your advantage by regularly brushing your teeth together.
Watching mommy or daddy brush their teeth can make the process more engaging for your child, and you can teach by example at the same time. Most dentists recommend supervising your child while brushing their teeth until they’re around eight years old. So, it makes sense to do this task together.
Dentists suggest brushing your teeth for a minimum of 120 seconds, so make these two minutes of teeth brushing as fun as possible.
For example, find an educational song about teeth brushing or let them choose their favorite music and turn it into a two-minute dance party. Brushing apps also help— for example, try Brush DJ.
Tip # 2: Let Them Choose A Special Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Practicing oral hygiene is non-negotiable, but there’s still a place where you can give them a sense of control: the toothbrush aisle. Children are more inclined to take an active role in their oral hygiene when you allow them to make their own decisions, even if it’s limited to letting them choose what tools they’ll use.
Luckily, there’s a vast market of toothbrushes and toothpaste flavors designed just for children. Take your child to the store and let them pick out a toothbrush with their favorite cartoon character or a toothpaste with sparkles in it.
Just remember to replace the brush every 3 to 4 months.
Tip #3: Create a Reward System
We all need a little incentive to get us to do things that aren’t fun—and that’s especially true for kids. Consider creating a reward system to motivate your children to take care of their teeth.
Use a poster or a calendar and let them place a sticker on it whenever they finish brushing their teeth. When they finish brushing their teeth for the day, you can provide little rewards, like extra screen time or another bedtime story.
Then, when they reach a particular milestone, like filling up all the days on the poster, you can give them a big reward. This can be a new toy, a trip to the zoo, or whatever most interests them.
There’s plenty of templates available online, or you can opt to make it yourself.
This visual aid gets them to mentally associate oral hygiene with fun and foster good habits over time. Just remember not to reward them with candy or sugary drinks!
Tip #4: Encourage Them to Play Family Dentist
Children often learn about real-life skills and the world around them through the power of play.
Provide your kids with a doll (this means a new toy!) and a dollar store toothbrush, and let them role-play as the dentist. See how they practice brushing the doll’s teeth and if they can explain to their toys while good oral hygiene is important.
As your child encourages their patient to embrace good dental care, they’ll also transfer these lessons to their routine. If you’re up for it, you can also allow them to check your teeth as they play dentist.
Engaging in this role play can also help them deal with any anxiety about visiting the dentist’s office.
Don’t Forget to Visit Your Family Dentist at Smile Fort Worth
Regular dental checkups are an essential component of your kids’ overall dental health.
Combine these tips with a trip to the family dentist every six months, and you’ll give your children the building blocks for a lifetime of oral health.
When you visit Smile Fort Worth, we’ll give your kids expert lessons about their teeth, how to care for them and reinforce the lessons they’re learning at home. We’ll also monitor their teeth development and identify warning signs before cavities and infections set in.
We understand getting your children interested in dental hygiene is challenging. If you need more advice, schedule a consultation at Smile Fort Worth today!