As adults, most of us know the importance of brushing and flossing our teeth. Both of these actions remove plaque – the clear, sticky film that forms on our teeth as a result of the interaction between sugar and bacteria. If it’s not removed, plaque will cause tooth decay and gum disease.
Kids need to brush their teeth properly and regularly, just like adults do. However, as you probably already know, little ones, and even older children, often need a great deal of encouragement to do any tasks that they perceive to be mundane. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to help encourage them to take responsibility for their oral health. Here are our top tips for getting kids to brush their teeth.
Make A Routine
Kids thrive when they are in a routine and making brushing their teeth part of their morning and bedtime rituals will eventually mean that they start doing it automatically, without even really thinking about it. And while it can be tempting to let them off if they are particularly tired or you are running, late, sticking to the routine will help make brushing second nature to your child sooner.
Choose A Child-Friendly Toothbrush
Adult toothbrushes are usually too big for a child’s mouth, so a smaller alternative is recommended. However, there are lots of cool designs to choose from in many stores, including popular cartoon and kids tv characters. Get your child involved in choosing their toothbrush and they are more likely to be on board with brushing their teeth.
Use A Fun Timer
Children, like adults, should brush their teeth for two minutes in the morning and at night. However, two minutes can seem like a very long time to a young child. You can distract your child by finding a fun way to monitor the time – a colored hourglass, listening (and maybe even dancing) to a two-minute song, or watching a short clip on a digital device.
Teach Them To Watch In The Mirror
Children are naturally curious, and it can help to encourage them to look in the mirror while they are brushing their teeth – particularly since it’s a good idea to teach them to pay special attention to the gum line as soon as possible, as this is where plaque can start to spread onto gum tissue.
Use A Reward System
Most children love a reward system, and there’s no reason why you can’t add tooth-brushing to their list of rewardable choices and activities. Find a rewarding method that works for your child, be it a sticker chart, adding marbles to a jar, or something else. And when it comes to rewarding time, remember not to offer candy or chocolate, but a more tooth-friendly alternative!
Set A Good Example!
Children learn best by watching others, and you are your child’s best role model, so make sure you let your little one see you brushing and flossing your teeth regularly too.
Ask Your Dentist To Tell Them To!
If your child isn’t great at listening to what mom or dad tells them to do, ask your dentist to remind them of the importance of tooth brushing when you take them for their regular check-up. Some kids will ignore their parents, but will happily listen to doctors or dentists!
For more top tips on getting your kids to brush their teeth, visit Stephanie R. Ricks Family Dentistry in McComb. Call (601) 258-8230 to schedule an appointment today.