We need to brush our teeth for two minutes, two times a day. It’s easy to remember, but not always so easy to do with young kids who like to do things their own way. Below we’ve put together a few tips and tricks that we’ve learned as dental professionals (and moms!) We hope some of these will help make tooth brushing fun– and not something you dread.
Make it part of a routine. When we do something consistently, it becomes easier to do. For the nighttime, you might not want to link brushing with bedtime since there might be resistance because of not wanting to go to bed. Instead, try brushing slightly earlier and do something your child enjoys directly after brushing like reading, drawing, or playing together.
Use songs or apps. This may or may not work for your family, depending on how well screen time works for your kids. As moms, we know it can come in handy, but is also hard to turn off. You could, of course, just sing the songs yourselves after you’ve learned them. Here are a few videos to try.
Take turns. When kids are eager to do everything on their own, it can make simple tasks a challenge. For tooth brushing, you can give them a chance to do it all by themselves–after you get a turn to brush their teeth.
Brush together. It’s important to be a good role model for all things related to health. Kids notice when we don’t follow our own advice. And early childhood is a time when kids want to imitate grownups so make sure it’s the positive habits they see.
Give rewards. Charts are a fun, visual way of motivating kids. You can draw your own, or print one out like this one we made. (Click the image to download your .pdf) Explain it to your child and agree on a small prize for completion. After some time, you can move on to a monthly chart too.
Learn why we brush. There are lots of books, videos, and other resources to help you talk to your kids about why they should brush their teeth. Your dentist is another great resource. At Super Kids Austin, we take time at each cleaning visit to review the importance of dental care and brushing techniques. At home, you can remind your child what Dr. Asha told them about how brushing twice a day helps protect their teeth from cavities.