Teaching young children good dental habits will benefit them for a lifetime and help them remain in good health.
For parents, saying you want their teeth to stay healthy is easier said than done. Even adults sometimes forget to brush, so getting your kids to do the same is even more difficult. While adults will eventually have to face an unhappy dentist, the needles and drill, that isn’t something we want our youngsters to experience.
So how can you get your kids to start practicing good oral habits?
Let’s take a look below.
Tips to Get Them Brushing
There are a lot of great suggestions from parents and dentists about ways to get kids to brush their teeth. Give these a try and see if they work. If one doesn’t, don’t force it. Move on and try again!
For younger children:
- Choosing supplies – Let them pick a toothbrush and toothpaste so they feel some control over the activity.
- Copycat – Brush together in the mirror, and try to take turns brushing each others’ teeth so you have an opportunity to help clean up any areas they missed. Try adding in “your turn” and “my turn” between brushing to get them even more involved.
- Toys – Use stuffed animals that have a mouth and teeth so kids can “teach” the toy the right way to brush.
- Checking for food – Praise is important, but there is a good chance they won’t let you look in their mouth afterwards. So play a game where you “spot” what they had for breakfast and dinner still inside their mouth and offer to help them get it with the brush.
- Timers, songs, and other games – There is a good chance that they will give up brushing after a quick swipe of their teeth. To prevent this, try to introduce short songs that you sing together while brushing, or add a timer that you must “beat” by not giving up early. Continue the song while you check their teeth.
- Don’t wait too long – Don’t brush right before bed or when they are tired.
- Routine matters – Every day around the same time; no off days.
- Books about brushing can help to introduce the concept and make it feel safe.
- Not using toothpaste is an option if they don’t like it at first.
Older children can be more of a hassle, and there are not a lot of options here. Aside from financial incentives, chores, or the inevitable trip to the dentist, older children will have to be motivated by their own desire to have clean teeth. Part of this is instilling those good habits early and making sure you set a good example.
What Good Oral Care Looks Like
Oral care goes beyond just brushing. Once you get over that hurdle, the next steps should involve these things:
- Brush twice daily.
- Floss at least once daily.
- Avoid foods that are high in sugar or are too acidic.
- Avoid snacking between meals (aim to brush after each meal if possible).
- Visit a dentist twice a year.
All of these go for adults too. Once you have your adult teeth, and after extensive dental work, maintaining oral health is especially important.
Try These Toothpastes
We already mentioned choosing toothpaste, but you may not like the options available because they contain artificial flavors or other questionable ingredients. If you are trying to use more natural products around the home, you might try one of the following toothpastes made with more natural ingredients.
- Childrens Tooth Gel from Weleda
- Xyliwhite Strawberry Splash Toothpaste from Now Foods
- SPRY Tooth Gel Child Original from Xlear-Spry
Each of these products strive to be easy to use and a healthy alternative for your children. Give them a try and see if they help to get your children to start brushing. Remember that once your adult teeth come in, they won’t regrow. So starting good habits early is one of the best ways to keep your mouth happy!