Tired of brushing battles? Want morning and bedtime routines to be easier? If so, you are not alone. Many parents struggle to get their kids to brush their teeth. To make the process easier, take a look at these tips from a children’s dentist.
1. Make It Fun
Kids tend to embrace habits more easily if they are fun, and there are all kinds of ways to make brushing more fun for your child. Buy a toothbrush or toothpaste with their favorite cartoon character on it, play a song while brushing, or have a mini dance party as you brush. If your child likes stories, tell them a short installment of a long story every night as they brush. They can’t get another “chapter” until it’s time to brush their teeth.
2. Brush Together
Small children in particular like to follow the lead of their parents. To encourage your children, try to make brushing a family affair. If you don’t all fit in the bathroom, you can even move this routine to the kitchen sink.
3. Start Young
To reduce brushing battles, you should start brushing when your child is as young as possible. Ideally, you should wipe your child’s gums with a piece of gauze long before they even get their first teeth. This helps to get your child used to the feeling of brushing, and it helps to establish a habit.
4. Consider Rewards
For an adult, it’s relatively easy to focus on the oral hygiene benefits of brushing. However, for kids, it can be hard to make the connection between brushing and cavity-free appointments with their children’s dentist. Educate your child about the importance of brushing to avoid cavities, but also consider implementing a more immediate rewards system.
For instance, if your child brushes without a struggle every day, you can add some money onto their allowance, give them extra screen time, or explore whatever rewards work best in your home.
5. Use Positive Reinforcement
If brushing is always a battle, your kids are probably anticipating a fight before the process starts. Try to turn away from that negativity by using positive reinforcement. In addition to using rewards, let your child know that you’re proud of them for brushing.
6. Find Out What They Don’t Like
Try to talk with your child and figure out why they are reluctant to brush. If you think they might be more responsive to their children’s dentist, have the dentist ask them. It may be an issue that’s easy to fix such as not liking the flavor of the toothpaste or feeling like the toothbrush is too hard on their gums.
7. Anchor It to Other Habits
Sometimes it’s easier to establish a habit if you anchor it to other habits. For instance, if your child likes to play on their tablet in the morning before school, you could download a brushing app and have that be the first thing that your child uses every morning. If they like having a snack in bed as you read to them at night but they don’t like getting back out of bed to brush, bring a cup of water and a spitting bowl to their room and let them brush there. There are all kinds of ways to tie brushing to something your child enjoys. Then, with a bit of consistency a regular pattern can emerge.
To get more tips on brushing with children, talk to a children’s dentist, or make an appointment at Dentistry for Children and Teens today. We would love to see your child.