How to Get Your Kid to Brush Their Teeth: 6 Tips and Tricks for Parents
Wondering how to get your kid to brush their teeth? For many parents, this daily struggle can be very frustrating. If this sounds like your household, there is hope.
There are so many different ways you can involve your child in their brushing and flossing routine, and modeling good behavior influences how well your child adheres to this routine.
Take a look at the following information and stop dreading the morning and nighttime fight over the toothbrush. Curious as to how to get your kid to brush their teeth? Keep reading.
The Importance of Oral Health
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay is one of the most common diseases among children in the United States. In fact, nearly 50% of eight-year-olds have visible signs of tooth decay.
Cavities, visible signs of tooth decay, may not seem like that big of a deal. If left untreated, however, cavities and tooth decay can have an impact on how your child eats, speaks, plays, and learns.
One of the common misconceptions surrounding oral health for children is that because they will eventually lose these teeth, the care is less important. While your child's baby teeth will fall out, they are there for several years and act as a placeholder for your child's permanent teeth.
As they age, things like the growth of wisdom teeth can cause severe discomfort in an already crowded mouth. Helping to encourage good oral hygiene habits early on will go a long way in helping your child maintain healthy oral habits for life.
Why Are Kids So Fussy When it Comes to Brushing and Flossing?
Being a parent to young children is a learning process, with both you and your child learning things as you go. Unlike unforeseen storm damage to your home, parenting and instilling healthy habits is something you can prepare for.
If you have a child of preschool age, you know that they are still learning to navigate the world around them and they are constantly experiencing new sensations and feelings. For some children, a sensory issue can cause fussiness when it comes to brushing and flossing. If you notice that your child seems to cringe or pull away when their teeth are being brushed, it could simply be the result of tender gums.
As new teeth come in, the gums become more tender, which can make brushing an unpleasant experience for your child. If this is the case, you might be wondering how to get your kid to brush their teeth so that it isn't uncomfortable.
You could try an over-the-counter numbing cream as a temporary measure to help ease sensitivity, or you could try wrapping your finger in gauze and using that instead of a toothbrush.
While some children do have sensitive teeth and gums that make brushing and flossing more difficult, others are simply being children. During the toddler and preschool years, children are learning autonomy and seeking control.
If your child clamps their mouth shut at the mere sight of a toothbrush, it can be their way of communicating that it is their mouth and they control it. This is completely normal behavior and is easy enough to remedy.
It might seem frustrating to fight with your child every day about brushing or flossing, but with the tips below, you will be able to help your child enjoy taking on this responsibility.
Tip #1: Let Your Kids Pick Out Their Dental Materials
Want to know how to get your kid to brush their teeth? Kids love specialty projects and to feel as though they are in control of their surroundings.
If you struggle with a child that fights brushing and flossing, make it easier on yourself by giving them some control over the process. Tell your child you need help with a special project, then take a special trip to the store so that they can pick out their own brushing and flossing materials.
More companies than ever now make dental products designed especially for children, and you may even find that your child's favorite fictional character is featured on a toothbrush or toothpaste packaging.
For instance, if you have a child that loves superheroes, look for a brush, toothpaste, or mouthwash (if they are old enough) and explain that even superheroes need to take good care of their teeth.
There are plenty of options for kid-friendly dental materials, so no matter what excites your child, you should be able to find materials that will get them excited to brush.
Princesses, cartoon characters, and other fun dental materials make it easy to help your child become involved in the process of brushing and flossing. Giving your child the ability to choose their materials can help them feel as though they have control over their oral health.
If you already have a brush and toothpaste, there are still other materials related to brushing that you can use. Companies make novelty toothbrush heads that help keep brushes sanitary when not in use. You can also help your child pick out a fun cup that they can store the toothbrush in, or look for a holder you can attach to their mirror with a suction cup.
Does your child need a step-stool to reach the sink? Let them pick out a kids’ stool at a local small business, and make a point to tell them what a special place it is. If you want to encourage even more involvement, buy a plain stool and take the time to help your child paint or decorate it.
Tip #2: Provide Incentives
Everyone, kids, and adults alike love the recognition and satisfaction that comes with being given awards. Just as you might get a promotion at work for doing your job exceptionally well, provide your child with positive incentives for brushing and flossing.
When it comes to how to get your kid to brush their teeth, rewards can be a great idea.
The first thing you need to do is decide whether your child will respond best to instant or delayed rewards.
For some children, if there isn't an immediate incentive for doing something, they just won't do it. Other children may enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes with regular brushing and flossing for an entire week.
You know your child best, so spend a few minutes thinking about what type of reward they might appreciate.
Some parents find success by giving kids an instant reward, such as a sticker, and a delayed reward.
Help your child create a monthly rewards chart and explain that every day they brush and floss, they will get a sticker (or a checkmark or whatever works for you). Then, at the end of the week, if they have brushed and flossed twice each day, they can pick a special reward.
You do not have to spend money on toys, though you certainly can, you can reward them with experiences as well.
Does your kid love pizza?
If they completed her whole week, make a pizza with them, and serve it as a family dinner. For kids who love movies, make a family movie night with popcorn an incentive for a full week of brushing. You can even sit down with your child and ask what types of rewards they would look forward to.
Tip #3: Stick to a Routine
Even though it may seem that your child is completely unpredictable at times, kids crave routine. When a child knows what to expect, they are more likely to respond positively to their environment, display more confidence, and exhibit more independent behavior.
You know that gathering at your round table for family meals regularly and developing a consistent sleep routine is essential to help your child thrive, and so is maintaining a routine around brushing and flossing. If you need to know how to get your kid to brush their teeth, stick to a regular routine.
As an adult, you brush your teeth morning and night and expect your child to do the same. However, you may have to get creative about how you maintain your routine. If you choose to reward your child nightly for brushing, make getting a sticker or whatever the reward is, part of the brushing routine.
This way, the routine is tied to something positive and tangible, helping your child remember that brushing and flossing occur at certain times every day.
Tip #4: Decorate Your Bathroom
Your bathroom is one of the most frequently used rooms in your entire home, so it should be a place that is comfortable, relaxing, and enjoyable. Whether your child has their own bathroom or the entire family shares one, adding some decoration to your bathroom can be a way for how to get your kid to brush their teeth.
You do not have to invest in all kinds of furniture and completely remodel your bathroom for decorations to be effective. As mentioned earlier, a step-stool can be a great addition to the bathroom. Make sure your kid gets a say in the stool or its decoration to give them some control.
Not interested in altering the decor of your bathroom? Think about small additions that can get your child excited to brush their teeth. Using a rewards chart? Why not hang it in the bathroom? This way the chart is on display all the time, so your child can easily track their progress.
You could also have your child draw pictures or make watercolor paintings that you frame and hang in your bathroom. Anything that makes your child feel more involved in the brushing and flossing process helps to encourage good oral hygiene habits.
Tip #5: Compare Pictures of Good and Bad Oral Hygiene
Young children don’t have the knowledge you do, so it can be hard for them to fully grasp the concept of bad oral hygiene. Help your child understand by taking advantage of their visual learning ability.
Use both pictures of healthy teeth and unhealthy teeth to educate your child about why taking care of their teeth with regular brushing and flossing is so important.
You can utilize digital prints, or you can show your child examples of good brushing and flossing habits versus poor brushing and flossing habits right on your tablet, smartphone, or computer.
Showing your child pictures is a great way to help them understand why oral hygiene is so important, but you also need to talk about the pictures with them.
Tell them that if they want their mouth to look like the healthy picture you've chosen, that it is important for them to brush and floss properly and regularly.
Tip #6: Brush and Floss as a Family
Children may not always absorb your words, but they always note your actions. For a way as to how to get your kid to brush their teeth, make sure you model good behavior.
It can be all too easy to just send your child to the bathroom to brush her teeth, but if you are wondering how to get your kid to brush their teeth, why not try making it a family activity?
Spending time together as a family is not limited to things like sitting around the table and eating. Your child needs to know that they are a valued member of the family, and taking time each day to do things together is an important way to reinforce this. You can spend time answering questions your child may have.
If you're an electrician, for example, your child may ask, "what is a burnishing tool used for?" You and your partner may want to stray from talking about your current employment issues but do model good communication skills. Brushing and flossing as a family is another way to demonstrate to your child that they are an important family member.
Both you and your child should be brushing for two minutes at least twice daily, and if it's hard to maintain the whole two minutes, consider playing some music. Numerous sites, including video-sharing platforms, offer songs and ideas about how to get your kid to brush their teeth.
Both the happy birthday song and the alphabet song, when sung twice, equal about two minutes and can be used to time brushing.
So, how to get your kid to brush their teeth? Developing good oral hygiene habits as a family is a great way to help your child understand responsibility and autonomy. Also, encourage good behavior with positive rewards, make family brushing time fun, and provide lots of positive feedback to end the daily struggle of brushing and flossing.