You’ve got enough on your plate without having to contend with the daily “brush your teeth” argument with the kids. However, teaching your kids how to brush their teeth – and why — is an important step in keeping their teeth healthy for life. While it can be a battle, there are some very effective tips for teaching kids about toothbrushing, and believe it or not you can even convince them that brushing their teeth can be fun! Use these 14 super fun ways to help with getting kids to brush their teeth without a fight!
1. Getting Kids To Brush Their Teeth — And Love It? Yes… Start Early!
Loving it might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it is possible to make brushing a good habit your kids maintain for life. It all starts by introducing the concept of brushing from day one, “washing” your baby’s gums after each feeding with a clean, wet piece of gauze.
2. Set A Good Example
You’re never going to get anywhere with your kids if you yourself aren’t brushing. Have your kids watch you brush from the day they are born, so they become interested in the idea of brushing and view it as just a normal part of everyone’s daily routine. As they get older and more curious, make brushing seem like loads of fun, making happy sounds and showing them your funny foamy teeth. Finish with a big smile to show them what healthy teeth look like.
3. Have Them Lead The Charge
When kids reach toddler/talking age, they suddenly want to be in charge. You can have them lead the brushing process every day so they feel like a big person. Have them tell you what to do or even show you like they are teaching you the steps. It’s a great way to build their confidence and make them feel more independent. A lot of kids will also see the humour in it.
4. Give Them Some Leeway
As kids get into the stubborn toddler years, they don’t like constantly being corrected. Although you have the best intentions, sometimes it helps to give them some leeway. Let them take the lead and develop their own toothbrushing “rites.” This might include letting them decide they want to use a certain chair to reach the sink or choose their own cup for rinsing, or even deciding to brush their teeth in the bathtub! They want to feel a sense of self, and it can help if you avoid being overly critical, even if they make a bit of a mess in the process.
5. Include The Whole Family
Including the whole family in the ritual can make it a lot more fun. You can all follow the steps together and take turns calling out orders, so you do everything in sync. This might not be right for every family, but it can work for families with a strong sense of teamwork. Some kids might prefer a little privacy, so respect their wishes to make them feel comfortable with their own process, as mentioned in tip #4.
6. Let Them Brush Your Teeth
Younger kids might get a kick out of brushing your teeth. If they are at the point where they can hold their own toothbrush, they might enjoy this switch of roles. As they brush your teeth you can offer tips, and it also helps them develop confidence. If you’re worried about discomfort, have them do just your front teeth.
7. Call In The Toys
Brushing their favourite doll’s or teddy bear’s teeth also makes brushing more fun. Keep an empty tube of toothpaste handy along with an old toothbrush so your child can use their imagination to brush their toy’s teeth. Once they’re done, they can focus on their own teeth, showing their dolls or stuffed toys they’re not afraid to brush.
8. Go On A Shopping Trip
Kids often enjoy brushing their teeth more if they get to pick out their own toothbrush. Head to the toothbrush aisle at a larger store that is likely to have a bigger assortment. Let them choose a toothbrush, toothpaste, and their own cup if budget allows. They’ll look forward to using their own oral health tools. You can also consider having an assortment of toothbrushes available at home, so if they are bored, they can choose a different colour or character that day.
9. Try A Variety Of Toothpaste “Flavours”
Your child might avoid brushing their teeth simply because they don’t like the flavour of the toothpaste you use. Let them try a variety of toothpastes to find the one they think tastes best.
10. Read Toothbrushing Books
There’s a wide variety of books on toothbrushing out there, from Dr. Seuss to Peppa Pig. Your child can choose their favourite toothbrushing books to read before bed, and then they might look forward to the ritual and be more willing to brush. You can also tell your own story to help explain why sugar is bad and the importance of protecting their teeth to avoid nasty cavities.
11. Tell Them About The Tooth Fairy
The story of the Tooth Fairy can also help kids feel motivated to brush. Let them know the Tooth Fairy only likes clean, cavity-free teeth to encourage them keep up with their brushing.
12. Make Brushing Time, Dance Time
Turn on your favourite tunes and dance for two minutes while your child brushes. They can create their own brushing playlist and choose a different song each day.
13. Create A Reward System
This is more of a last resort for kids that are really reluctant. Since this is something they need to do, it shouldn’t be something they get rewarded for. But when all else fails… A sticker system works, but you can choose whatever reward your kids will appreciate. Of course, you want to avoid offering sweets as the reward here! And once the system works to instill regular habits, gradually drop the rewards they receive.
14. Go For A “Chair Ride”
Sometimes kids respond better to a non-parent adult for things like toothbrushing. Arrange a “chair ride” at your dental clinic, where they learn more about the dentist and proper brushing with your hygienist. Your dentist will also provide a free toothbrush and toothpaste, or might even have a Healthy Smiles Club to add further incentive to brush.