Putting kids to bed can often be quite the chore. Along with wrestling young ones into pajamas, getting water, and other bedtime rituals, kids must also brush their teeth. But for many kids, the teeth-brushing part of the routine is a dreaded experience.
If your kids kick and scream when it’s time to brush their teeth, you might consider skipping the event altogether. However, data collected by Mint Dental, a family dental office in Alaska, shows that poor dental hygiene habits in children can lead to painful and expensive consequences.
Their research shows that tooth decay is the number one chronic infectious disease for children in the U.S. Almost half of children ages 2 to 11 experience tooth decay, which can lead to an infection that might put your child in the hospital. The average hospitalization for tooth decay costs around $6,000!
Besides that, when kids fail to develop good dental hygiene habits as a child, they’re unlikely to have good habits as an adult, setting them up for years of mouth-related problems. If your kid is fighting teeth brushing, here are some ideas that might help:
- Tell a Story
Tell your children a fun, exciting story that makes them want to brush their teeth. For example, you could tell your kids that there are animals or monsters hiding in their teeth, and they must use their toothbrushes to chase and catch them. Suddenly, it’s a fun adventure that encourages reluctant brushers to happily comply.
- Use a Fun Timer
Dental experts encourage individuals of all ages to brush their teeth for two minutes to ensure each surface gets enough attention. Most kids won’t have the attention span for it unless you use a fun timer.
There are hundreds of digital or hourglass timer products kids can use to brush their teeth. They may even get excited about brushing because it means they get to set the timer daily!
- Buy a Character Toothbrush
Kids are often enticed to do things they don’t like when it involves a character from a beloved movie or book. Take your child to the store and let them pick out their own toothbrush with the character of their choice. It also helps them develop a sense of ownership because they chose and purchased their toothbrush.
- Try Flavored Toothpaste
While you’re shopping, buy your child toothpaste in the flavor of their choice. Most children do not enjoy mint or cinnamon flavored toothpaste, but they don’t mind cherry, bubblegum, or orange-mango flavors.
- Use an App
Technology gets most kids excited these days, and you can use that in your efforts to help kids brush their teeth. Here are some of the top-rated tooth-brushing apps for kids:
- Brush Your Teeth by Concappt Media
- Brusheez: Little Monsters Toothbrush Timer
- Brush Teeth with Momo by Think Design Studio
- Brush DJ
- Tiny Dentist by Gametects
Each of these apps is fun and functional, making teeth brushing a memorable experience for kids.
- Let Kids Practice
Buy a few cheap toothbrushes that kids can use for practice during the day. Encourage them to take a stuffed animal or doll and brush their toys’ teeth. You could also purchase a toy set of teeth and show kids how to brush properly before they put a clean toothbrush in their mouths later.
- Institute a Rewards System
Offering rewards for good behavior is an age-old parenting trick that works wonders. When kids are rewarded for doing something well, it helps them develop a habit that can last a lifetime.
A common rewards system involves a sticker chart. Each time a child successfully brushes their teeth without complaining, crying, or fighting, they will earn a sticker. When they reach a certain number of stickers, they’ll get a prize.
- Make a Game
Use your imagination and gamify the tooth-brushing experience. You might tell them they’re on an African safari inside their mouth or they’re fighting an alien invasion, and the only way to escape is to brush for a thorough two minutes. You’ll be surprised by the games your child can invent and how much they’ll enjoy the teeth-brushing experience!
- Start Early
The best way to prevent a fight with teeth brushing is to start early. As soon as your child’s first teeth pop through, begin brushing their teeth morning and night. They’ll get used to the feeling of having their teeth brushed and the routine of it, and they’ll be less likely to complain when they get older.
- Lead by Example
Most importantly, your children should see you brushing your teeth twice a day from the time they’re very little. You are a hero to your children, and they’ll likely emulate your actions from a young age. You’ll have great dental hygiene and help your children to as well!