Let’s face it—getting your child to brush is like pulling teeth at times!
Tooth decay is not uncommon among children, making it imperative that your child brush and floss from an early age. Even as an infant, it’s recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA) that you wipe gums with a clean cloth or gauze after feedings. Decay can happen as soon as teeth are present!
As your child grows, he or she can take on the task of brushing and flossing themselves. Teaching your child to brush and floss properly is often a progressive lesson that occurs over time. You can monitor your child’s oral care habits to ensure teeth and gums are properly cleaned.
Once your child is doing their own brushing, however, encouraging them to brush can feel like a chore for both you and them. Here are five tips to get your child invested in brushing his or her teeth!
- Start Early
Getting your child accustomed to brushing and flossing their teeth at an early age is the key to success!
Although you’ll need to help brush your toddler’s teeth, children at this age are old enough to begin trying by themselves.
Exposing your child to floss, a toothbrush, and toothpaste can familiarize him or her with these items in addition to a routine. This is the foundation to creating a habit of good oral healthcare that will last your child’s life!
The same is true for starting your child early at the dentist. The ADA recommends that children see a dentist around the time their first tooth erupts, which is about six months old. Your child may be older than this before they get their first tooth, but regardless, schedule a visit with your dentist in Asheville when you see that first baby tooth!
The earlier your child visits the dentist, the less afraid and more comfortable they become with dental visits. Missing dental checkups and cleanings has other consequences besides making your child anxious, so schedule a check-up and start early to support your child’s oral health care!
- Use a Special Toothbrush
Getting your child excited about tooth brushing time is easy when you let them choose a special toothbrush to use.
Allowing your child to have their own brightly-colored or cartoon character toothbrush helps them feel like brushing is a time to use their new special item and have some fun!
You can also have your child pick out a toothpaste and even floss that is just for them. Keeping their “tooth time” items together and separate from your own can create a unique experience that encourages them to use their new toothbrush and toothpaste.
No matter how sweet, colorful, or sparkly your child’s toothpaste is, it’s imperative to encourage them not to swallow the toothpaste. Tell them it’s a special paste just for their teeth, not for their tummies!
During your child’s dental exam, your dentist in Asheville can let you know how your child is doing with their brushing based on plaque buildup. Dr. Saunders can identify any problem areas or spots that your child is consistently missing with each checkup!
You may also talk with Dr. Saunders about getting dental sealants once your child has permanent molars. These plastic-like protectors keep back molars safe from tooth decay while your child is still mastering their brushing skills.
- Make a Routine
Having a routine in which brushing and flossing are consistently a part of can help keep your child on track when it comes to oral care.
For example, you and your child can brush your teeth at the same time—children often learn by example. When you brush your teeth, your child can brush his or her teeth too! Encourage your child to brush before breakfast to remove plaque and bacteria from the night before. Plus, it gets this task out of the way before the busy day starts!
Help your child make a habit of brushing every morning and evening regardless of events, vacations, or sleepovers. Let your child know that skipping brushing can be bad for our teeth. Consistency is key and keeping your child motivated to brush and floss can help them make it a part of their daily routine.
Two minutes two times a day—that’s all that’s needed for brushing to be effective at preventing cavities and gum disease. Flossing is only needed once a day and can happen at the time of your child’s choosing!
- Have Fun!
Making brushing and flossing fun is the easiest way to encourage your child to get involved in their oral care try this out. In addition to having a special toothbrush and toothpaste, you can read books about brushing teeth to learn more teeth and gums as well as listen to songs.
Listening to songs that are two minutes long can help your child to know exactly how long they should brush their teeth for. Check out this list of seven songs from the ADA to listen to while brushing to have some fun and keep going for the full two minutes!
You can also have your child teach his or her younger sibling how to brush. Children love to show younger children how to do things. Have them brush the sibling’s teeth if they’re old enough and experienced enough, or have them help you teach the child if he or she is ready!
- Create a Reward System
If all else fails when trying to encourage your children to brush or floss, you can create a reward system that will get your child excited about brushing their teeth.
A motivational chart that has stickers on it or even potential rewards can help your child to track their progress with brushing and see whether or not they flossed that day.
You can also have your child learn about healthy snacks that will help their teeth rather than hurt them. Create a chart so your child can see which foods and drinks they’re eating that’ll help their teeth and give points or stickers for healthy foods!
Creating a reward system is a positive way to get your child to stick to a routine of brushing and flossing.
Brushing and flossing are crucial daily habits for your child to acquire. Get your child motivated about taking care of their smile by sticking to a routine, making brushing time fun, and letting them choose their own toothpaste and toothbrush. Use a rewards system if needed and always visit your dentist in Asheville for checkups. Your child should always be encouraged to have a healthy, beautiful smile!