If you’re one of the millions of parents home with young children during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, things can feel stressful right now.
Schools in the majority of states are closed while the national emergency continues, and families have been forced to discontinue their normal routines and adopt new ones. With so much uncertainty and schedules changing from day to day, it’s understandable that important habits that were once part of your routine are now challenging to keep up with.
However, taking care of your teeth and gums right now is important to preventing a dental emergency and keeping your kids’ teeth healthy until their next checkup. But how can you get your children motivated to brush their teeth?
Here are our top seven tips to help your children (and you!) stay motivated to brush your teeth and floss even while practicing self-isolation at home!
- Let Them Choose Their Oral Care Materials
You can begin getting your kids excited about brushing their teeth by letting them choose their own oral care materials. Even if you’ve tried previously to get them motivated to brush without success, start fresh with a new toothbrush!
If your child is old enough and has most of their permanent teeth (around age 10), you can let them pick an adult toothbrush and toothpaste. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends a soft-bristled toothbrush for both adults and children to prevent damage to tooth enamel.
For younger children, there are many ADA-accepted toothbrushes and toothpastes that feature fun colors and cartoon characters that your child may enjoy. By personalizing their oral care products, you can make brushing more enjoyable!
2. Choose an Activity to Make Brushing Fun
Brushing teeth can feel like a mundane activity for some children, which can make doing an activity during brushing time more appealing.
Have your children pick a song they love that’s approximately two minutes long or have them brush their teeth to a video. However, make sure it’s a video related to brushing teeth or a guided brushing video, otherwise, kids may lose concentration and not pay attention to how well they’re brushing their teeth!
Doing an activity while brushing their teeth can help children get excited about their oral care routine and make those two minutes two times a day fly right by!
3. Make a Reward System
If you’re having a difficult time getting your children to stick to a routine with brushing their teeth, consider creating a schedule and implement a reward system as part of the schedule.
Here’s an example of how your kids’ oral care routine could look—have your children brush their teeth before they’re allowed to do a favorite activity. For example, you might play a game, read a book, or watch a show before bed, but they can only do the activity after they’ve brushed their teeth.
You can also use incentives such as stickers or prizes for smaller children who brush their teeth as directed, although this may not be as sustainable as using a reward system and an activity as part of a schedule!
4. Educate Children on Why Oral Care Is So Important
Some children may not realize just how important brushing their teeth is to their overall oral health (and, as research is showing, the health of your entire body!).
Although your kid-friendly dentist in Asheville can help explain the importance of brushing and flossing to your children, it’s your turn to get creative and explain the benefits to them while COVID-19 prevents you from visiting your Asheville dental practice except for emergencies.
Explain to your children with an age-appropriate story that brushing their teeth helps remove plaque. Plaque is a sticky combination of bacteria and food particles that coat the teeth the longer you go without brushing, and the more plaque you have, the higher risk you have for tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath.
There’s no need to alarm children, but explain to them that by brushing two times every day, we can keep plaque away! You can also explain that tooth decay can be sneaky and the symptoms may not be noticeable until the cavity has gotten bigger, making preventative care super important to defeating cavities and gum disease.
You can simply and effectively tell children that brushing every day supports their oral health and prevents their teeth from experiencing decay, which can help them have a healthy and beautiful adult smile as they get older!
5. Make Brushing a Group Activity
If tooth brushing is a challenge in your house, don’t make it a solo activity for your child. Instead, make it a group activity. You and your partner or other family members can brush your teeth together with your children to help set a positive example and make oral care fun!
During quarantine, you can also consider doing a video call with other kids who are brushing their teeth as well, such as cousins or friends, or even family members. You can also have your children “teach” someone how to brush their teeth to help make the process fun and rewarding!
6. Get a Hand From Technology
There are numerous free apps that you can access via a device such as your smartphone or tablet that help kids get motivated to brush. Consider using technology to help your children develop healthy brushing habits and even to time their brushing sessions to successfully get their two minutes two times a day.
You can use helpful tooth-brushing apps in combination with the other tips on this list to help create a positive and rewarding experience for your child’s oral care at home!
7. Be Encouraging
It takes time to develop a new habit and to stick to a new routine. Be patient and positive as much as possible while encouraging your child to adopt a new brushing routine during the COVID-19 crisis.
Children who feel like brushing their teeth is a chore or a punishment are more likely to be stubborn when it comes to consistently taking care of their smile. Stay upbeat and don’t give up when encouraging them to keep up their healthy brushing habits!
Contact Us With Questions
Whether you have concerns about your little one’s oral care or are experiencing a dental emergency, we’re here for you at Saunders DDS during the COVID-19 crisis. Contact us today at (828) 277-6060 to reach our team!