Keeping your child’s teeth and gums healthy starts when they are just infants. As your child grows, they’ll be able to take on more of their oral care tasks themselves, including brushing and flossing.
However, getting kids to brush their teeth isn’t always easy. For many parents, the challenge isn’t getting kids to brush their teeth but getting them to brush their teeth for the full two minutes to ensure their smiles are free of plaque and harmful bacteria that can cause tooth decay.
Making brushing and flossing more entertaining can help younger kids stay focused on the task for the full two minutes and increase their chances of a healthy smile.
Why Two Minutes?
The American Dental Association recommends brushing for a full two minutes in order to remove plaque, food particles, and bacteria from your mouth to encourage a healthy smile. Without brushing for two minutes, you risk missing parts of your mouth where plaque can accumulate and cause tooth enamel damage or gum inflammation.
Most people have trouble brushing for two minutes, so choosing an electric toothbrush with a timer can be helpful for adults. However, when it comes to kids, they may need a bit more encouragement to keep brushing. Here are five fun ways to make kids brush for two minutes.
- Choose a Two-Minute Song
One of the easiest ways to get kids to brush is to choose a two-minute song to play while they brush their teeth.
Let kids know that they have to brush the whole time the song is playing, and then when the song ends, they’re done. You can choose a song or have your kids take turns picking the song. You can also try the Brush DJ app, which automatically plays songs for two minutes for kids to brush along to.
There are also tons of two-minute songs for kids on YouTube that you can choose for kids to brush along with a cartoon character or to watch the video while they brush to encourage them to keep moving that toothbrush until the two minutes is up.
- Use a Toothbrush With an App
Some electric toothbrushes come with apps you can download and use as a way for kids to track their progress when brushing their teeth, which can help them stay motivated to brush for the full two minutes. Having your child choose their own toothbrush can also be a great way to encourage them to use it for the full length of time.
Popular apps to consider for teeth brushing time include:
- Aquafresh Brush Time
- Brush Up
- Chomper Chums
- Disney Magic Timer
- Tiny Dentist
Depending on their age level and interests, you can try different apps to see which one has the most success with your kids. Apps are a great way to get children to engage with their oral health!
- Make Brushing a Group Effort
Children tend to follow the example of their parents and caregivers. When you exhibit proper oral health practices, your child is more likely to want to do them too. One of the ways you can encourage kids to brush for the full two minutes is to make brushing a group effort or family activity.
Brush your teeth along with your kids, or have your kids brush their teeth together. Making brushing a group activity combined with fun songs or apps can make oral hygiene time extra special and create a routine that you and your kids do together, therefore encouraging them to brush for the full 120 seconds.
- Set a Timer
Setting a timer is an easy and affordable way to keep kids brushing. You can set the timer up on the sink or vanity, and kids can watch the timer go down while they brush their teeth. You can use a kitchen timer or the timer on your phone, set it to two minutes, and have kids start brushing.
You can even make setting the timer a “race”, doing a “Ready, set, go!” launch when the timer starts, and then counting down the seconds before the timer ends to get kids excited about brushing their teeth for the full time.
- Break Up Brushing Time Into Shorter Blocks
Since kids tend to have a short attention span, breaking up the two minutes of brushing time may work better for some children. For example, instead of setting a timer for two minutes, set it for 30 seconds and have kids brush one section of their teeth, such as the bottom right side of their mouths.
Then, set the timer again and do the other side. Although this may be a bit more time-consuming, it helps kids know how long they need to focus on each part of their mouth when brushing. Don’t forget to have kids brush the backs of their upper and lower front teeth!
What Age Should My Child Be Brushing on Their Own?
Each child and their development are different. Most children will need supervision with brushing and flossing their teeth until at least eight years of age. It all depends on how well your child does with brushing and flossing and how confident you feel in their ability to keep their smile clean.
Of course, keeping up with your child’s regular dental visits can ensure that your kids are doing their part to keep gum disease and cavities away. Your dentist in Asheville can not only identify potential problems to prevent the need for fillings or additional treatments, but they can also help your child improve their brushing habits with additional tips.
Going to the dentist and getting “progress reports” on their teeth brushing and flossing can help kids stay motivated to keep their teeth clean and impress the dentist during their next checkup.
Contact Us to Book Your Child’s Next Visit
Saunders DDS is your local family-friendly dentist seeing adults and children in the Asheville area. Whether you’re new to Asheville or are just looking for a new dentist, contact us to book a check-up for both you and your children at (828) 277-6060. Or use our online form to request an appointment.