Kids’ dental health is important. Even when kids still have milk teeth or baby teeth, it’s better for them to avoid getting cavities. Getting rambunctious children to stop long enough to brush their teeth, however, seems like an impossible task. Below are five ways to get your kids to brush their teeth. These are just some tips and tricks from creative moms to keep your kids’ pearly whites gleaming.
1. Get your game on - At 16 months old, Rowie’s son, Rafael, hasn’t yet developed the coordination needed to brush his own teeth, so Rowie has to do it for him—and be creative while at it. One way Rowie gets Rafael to open wide is to turn toothbrushing into a game.
“I put my toothbrush in my mouth at the same time so that he copies me,” says Rowie, “When I go ‘eeeee’ he copies me and goes ‘eeeee’ as well, and that gives me the opportunity to brush his front teeth. Then I say ‘ahhhh’ and have him copy my mouth again while I brush the back of his teeth.”
If Rafael insists on grabbing the toothbrush, as many kids no doubt will, Rowie guides his hand by putting her hand over the toothbrush as well.
2. Let them do something for you - It’s easy to forget that children love being depended on too. They so rarely get the chance to be responsible so that anything you request helps them build their own confidence. Mommy Veronica makes brushing time a bit easier by giving her 3-year old daughter, Maeven, the “privilege” of brushing her mommy’s teeth. Veronica says that it usually distracts Maeven long enough, so she can brush her daughter’s teeth thoroughly. Veronica also adds in a bit of fun afterwards by pretending to kiss Maeven with her foamy mouth. Sounds like a recipe for good times, huh?
3. Toy wonder - With three children, Mommy KC has her hands full. Instead of struggling with her 5 year-old and 3 ½ year-old (not to mention another infant), she bought battery-operated toothbrushes with handles designed in her children’s favorite characters. Dora the Explorer and Spongebob Squarepants, anyone?
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“They had a good time seeing their toothbrush move by itself, so they perceived their toothbrushes not as a necessity but more like a toy,” says KC. After the batteries ran out, KC switched back to regular toothbrushes without any problem at all.
4. Flavored for fun - While you might love your minty fresh toothpaste, your taste isn’t necessarily like your children’s. Try experimenting with fun toothpaste flavors your children will love. Mommy Cecille uses toothpaste flavors like Fruit Splash and Bubble Burst for her two toddlers.
While you’re out flavor shopping, why not look out for some other additional benefits from your child’s toothpaste. Try looking for a brand that’s fluoride free to prevent fluorosis (a condition caused by too much fluoride during tooth development). Ed’s note (3/25): Another tip to prevent fluorosis is to just put a dab of toothpaste on your child’s toothbrush. They don’t need the same amount as you do to brush their teeth.
5. Model mom (and dad) - Last, but never the least, your children look to you for cues. Whatever excites you will most likely excite them too. Treat tooth brushing time as a fun activity—not an unwelcome chore to be done day after day. Make a silly song. Announce toothbrushing time like it was fun time. See the difference your own mood makes on your children’s attitudes.
Your kids’ dental health today will form the basis of a lifelong habit. The five ways to get your kids to brush their teeth that are mentioned above are just some suggestions or pointers. Your relationship with your kids is unique and you’ll probably find your own way of getting things done.
Sources: Author’s personal interviews
Additional Online Sources: Save Your SmileAssociated content