Children love cavity-causing candies, which is fine if only you can get them to brush their teeth regularly. Turn it into a struggle-free endeavor for you and a fun activity for your child with these tips:
1. Brush with them. Kids love copying adults and doing “grown up things” so do the deed together. Be extra encouraging by smiling while you brush and showing how much you enjoy the activity. If you can, get the whole family to do it together because kids hate missing out. If everyone’s doing it, you can bet he’ll want to brush too.
2. Make it a part of a routine. As early as your child’s first tooth, you should already be scheduling her for a visit to the dentist, advisesDr. Nina Tayag-Atotubo, member of the Philippine Pediatric Dental Society Inc., and consultant at the Pediatric Dentistry Center Philippines. At your child’s first dental visit, you’ll be taught how to properly care for your child’s teeth including brushing.
As soon as the dentist says you can brush your child’s teeth, incorporate the activity into her morning and bedtime routine. Once the routine is set and your child is fully accustomed to it, brushing everyday becomes easier.
3. Let him pick his toothbrush. A boring plain white toothbrush won’t get your child excited to brush her teeth, but one she picked out herself (and comes in her favorite cartoon character design) may just get her making teeth brushing a habit. 4. Pick the right toothpaste. Kid-flavored toothpaste will make brushing a more pleasant experience for kids, rather than the common mint variety. Experiment with what flavor your child likes the most but be careful on not skimping out on fluoride.
“Look for a toothpaste that has at least 1,000 ppm fluoride. Most kiddie toothpaste brands have less than this amount, making them less effective compared to anti-caries toothpaste brands,” says Dr. Taya-Atotubo. “Non-fluoride toothpaste is not recommended.”
If your child being unable to spit yet and you worry about her ingesting toothpaste, Dr. Taya-Atotubo adds that a “smear amount” of toothpaste is enough for children 0 to 3 years old. “Using a minimal amount of toothpaste addresses the concern of children who cannot spit yet,” she explains.
5. Brush in front of a mirror. It could be a bit of a hassle since children may be too short to see themselves in the bathroom sink mirror, but seeing their reflection will help engage them in the task more. “This makes kids feel more in control and more at ease,” says Dr. Mark Burhenne, a family and sleep medicine dentist.
6. Don’t threaten. “Children are often told that if they don’t brush, they’ll have to see the dentist as a punishment,” says Dr. Burhenne. “I can say from experience that shame simply doesn’t work when it comes to making brushing and flossing a habit.”
Plus, by doing so your child will start to fear the dentist and associate going to the dental clinic with something painful. It will then make necessary visits for oral prophylaxis (teeth cleaning), a relatively painless procedure, more difficult. 7. Sing a song, set a timer or play a video. Brushing should last around two minutes each time. Grab that hourglass from your family board game to help your child see how long she has to brush her teeth. You can also use an egg timer or your smartphone’s timer, but this can be less fun for little kids.
There are also many videos about brushing available online that are around two minutes long. Have your child brush as long as the video plays. Most come with catchy songs and rhymes that make brushing not just a breeze but educational too.
Here are some popular ones for tots:
Here’s one we like that’s perfect for kids a little older: