Very few, if any, children will start brushing their teeth on their own. It typically takes encouragement, gentle persuasion and excitement for a child to want to practice good dental hygiene. While encouraging our kids to brush is not always easy and typically requires nagging, it is an important task that parents must undergo. Practicing good dental hygiene early is a vital part of a child’s physical health and will pave the way for regular dentist visits down the road. If you are feeling disheartened, there are a few ways you can spruce up the routine and help your child keep his pearly whites healthy:
This is the most important way you can get your child accustomed to having his teeth brushed. You can start while your child is still an infant, before a toothbrush is even necessary. Use a soft cloth to wipe your baby’s teeth clean. Be extremely careful, especially if your baby is still teething. Studies show that toddlers who are used to having their teeth touched, brushed and cleaned by adults early on are more likely to enjoy brushing in the following years.
Monkey See, Monkey Do
Make brushing a family affair. Let your child watch you or your spouse brush your teeth, then encourage him to copy you. Play a counting game where you brush a certain number of strokes and then ask your child to do the same. If your child takes more of an interest in his teeth than his own, allow him to brush your teeth for you. He may be scared that the brushing will hurt, but once he sees that you are fine (especially after he is done with you), then he may feel more comfortable having his own teeth brushed.
Don’t Underestimate Fun
Purchase a special toothbrush with your child’s favorite character on it. Many toothbrushes come with cartoon or television characters, and some of them even light up or play music. You may also consider singing songs about brushing your teeth to make the ritual more enjoyable. You must be willing to make a total fool out of yourself, though! If your child is interested in a certain television character or a friend from a book, consider purchasing movies or stories about these characters brushing their own teeth. A popular favorite amongst kids is The Adventures of Timmy Tooth. Chances are that your child will want to be just like them and will follow suit by brushing their own teeth.
Choose the Right Toothpaste
No matter what type of toothpaste you are looking for, whether it be with or without fluoride, natural ingredients or just plain cheap, you must always consider the taste above everything else. A child who does not enjoy the taste will not enjoy brushing his teeth.
Create a Rewards Chart
You can purchase charts or print them from your computer to track your child’s progress. Use stickers for each day of the week that your child successfully brushed is teeth, and allow him to redeem his stickers for small prizes, a special dessert or other reward that you feel is appropriate.
Casey Haslem is a writer for Copperas Cove Dental. If you would like to learn more about dentistry and what options are available to you, you can find out more here: