Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly is a great way to safeguard the health of not only your mouth, but your entire body. Passing on these healthy oral care habits to your children is a great way to give them the tools to live a healthy life.
Below are 6 helpful dental care tips that the pediatric dentists at Mitten Kids Dentistry have put together to help get your child excited about brushing their teeth.
1. Sing Songs
Does your child have a favorite song? Maybe they like to sing a song that they learned in school, or you find your child humming the theme song for their favorite TV show? These are both options to help your child associate brushing their teeth with the positive experiences in their life.
Let your child choose what song they would prefer you to sing during teeth brushing time. The time you spend together not only reinforces healthy dental habits, but can serve as a bonding time for both you and your child.
2. Let Them Pick
Letting your child pick out their own kids toothbrush is a wonderful way to empower your child. Your child will be more excited to brush their teeth if they are able to do so with the brush they picked out. A toothbrush in their favorite color, or with their favorite cartoon character, can do wonders to get them excited about healthy habits. Don’t be surprised if your child wants to brush their teeth as soon as you leave the store!
3. Set an Example
Let your child see you as you brush your teeth twice a day. In their early, more formative, years children take cues from their parents to determine what is expected from them. The more your child watches you brush your teeth, the more healthy habits will be reinforced in their mind. Be sure to never act as though brushing your teeth is a chore.
You may even set a teeth brushing routine where both you and your child brush your teeth together. Seeing you brush your teeth may encourage your child to try out their new toothbrush.
4. Use Your Imagination
If your child is having a hard time understanding the importance of brushing their teeth, start a conversation with them about cavities. Afterwards, create an opportunity for your child to use their imagination through drawing. Tell them to draw a picture of the cavities or “the bad guys” that they must protect their teeth against. You may be surprised to see the creativity drawn across the page.
After your child is satisfied with their picture, hang it up in the bathroom to serve as a constant reminder for your child to brush their teeth, thus preventing cavities. Sometimes, it can be difficult for children to foresee the consequences of their actions further down the road. Their picture can help their understanding of the importance of dental health, and also nurtures their imagination.
5. Practice Teeth Brushing
If your child is anxious about brushing their teeth for the first time, choose one of their favorite stuffed animals or dolls and tell them to practice brushing their teeth on them. Feel free to start a dialog with your child while they are practicing on their toy. Ask questions like, “Is [Toy’s name] happy about having a clean mouth?”
This type of interaction can prove effective in decreasing a child’s stress. Once your child sees that their toy survived the teeth brushing unscathed, they won’t be so apprehensive about brushing their own teeth.
6. Give Them a Guide
Sometimes, children need a little help when it comes to learning what clean teeth look like. Plaque disclosing tablets and toothpaste can help your kids see how much plaque is left on their teeth after a first attempt at brushing. It can also give them a strong visual so they can picture the plaque even without the help of the plaque discloser.
Please note that plaque disclosing tablets should not be swallowed. This technique is best suited for children who are old enough to know not to swallow them.
Want to Learn More?
These tips will help you as you teach your child the importance of a healthy mouth. If you are interested in learning more about dental tips for your kids or in any of our other pediatric dental services, contact our Grand Rapids pediatric dentists at (616) 942-9840. Happy teeth brushing!
[This blog post has been updated.]