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Every parent knows that their kids are a bundle of joy, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. Sometimes, though, it can be a little challenging to stay on top of basic parenting tasks, like getting your kids to follow certain hygiene routines. You’ve probably even exchanged funny stories with family and friends about little kids fighting their way out of this routine.
Following the basics of good oral hygiene, like proper brushing, flossing, and avoiding excess sugar from too much chocolate and candy, start in childhood — and shape the future of your kids’ oral health.
Children need good dental care early on, and as parents, you play a significant role in instilling these healthy lifelong habits. To make sure that these work, though, you’ll need to get creative sometimes and show your kids that cleaning their teeth and following proper dental care can be fun.
Why Kids Hate Brushing Their Teeth: Secret Unlocked
If good dental care habits ultimately have lifelong benefits, why do so many kids fight their parents on it every step of the way? Does it have to take a painful cavity or tooth decay to learn this lesson? We certainly hope not and want to avoid that.
Simply, it’s hard to make kids do something that they “have to do” just because they’re told. Many of them are young, too, so it’s hard to make them understand the long-term impact of good dental care for children early on. Worse, it only takes one instance of less than desirable tooth brushing conditions to scare them away, like the shock of cold water or the taste and smell of toothpaste.
The good news is that many fixes parents can try at home that doesn’t involve scaring the little ones with the threat of cavities. It only takes 21 days to make a routine a lifelong habit, so let’s make tooth brushing and cleaning fun and consistent:
How to Make Tooth Brushing Fun for Little Kids
1. Make brushing a fun habit
Who says daily hygiene habits have to be a chore? Approaching dental care for children will only have the opposite effect instead of making it harder to instill good oral hygiene habits.
Encourage the habit positively by creating a morning and evening brushing routine. While doing so, think of fun games and activities that your kids will enjoy; over time, they will learn to look forward to brushing their teeth. Explore some classic reward systems in the early stages, such as a toothbrushing chart or the tooth fairy, to help kids get in the habit of good dental care early on.
2. Lead by example and make it a family affair
Your kids look up to you. They watch everything you do and want to be like you. Set a good example by brushing your teeth with them in the morning and before bed, turning it into a fun family activity. When kids see their parents completing the same task, it’s easier to set a good example and show that everyone needs to brush their teeth at any age.
For busy parents like you, taking the time to brush and floss with the little ones is also an excellent way to stay on top of your hygiene routine. Because you’re doing it together, you don’t have to allow extra time to look after them and make sure they get their brushing done.
It’s also a good idea to schedule the entire family’s visit to the dentist at once. Look for a dentist in Toronto that specializes in family and children’s dentistry. Making dental check-ups and cleanings a family affair helps eliminate kids’ fear of the dentist, and together, you can discuss dental concerns in a warm and welcoming environment.
3. Play fun music
Music tends to have a positive and uplifting effect, which can help you get kids in the mood for brushing their teeth. Play some music, like their favourite songs, or even try a musical toothbrush to help them stay on track for the recommended 2 minutes of brushing. This is especially helpful if your kids tend to rush the process, only brushing for 10 seconds at a time, which isn’t nearly enough time for thorough cleaning.
4. Use their favourite toys
Kids love to play pretend — it plays a significant role in learning social skills, problem-solving abilities, and language and communication. If they’re having trouble getting into a morning and evening brushing routine because they’re distracted by play and other activities, try incorporating these instead.
You can start by playing with them using their favourite toys, and get them to “brush the teeth” of their dolls and stuffed toys, and keep their teeth healthy, too. Seeing their friends brush their teeth will encourage them to do the same and further enhance their imaginative play.
5. Recognize that they’re big kids
Kids grow up in a blink of an eye, and a lot faster than most parents would like; one minute they’re a baby, the next they’re a toddler insisting that they can do things on their own. This is a good thing, especially when it comes to their dental care. When they start brushing their teeth on their own, it tells you that you’ve successfully instilled this good habit.
Now, all you need to do is make sure they do it properly: observe them, and point out areas they may have missed. Make sure they move the toothbrush in gentle circles and lend a helping hand when needed.
6. Pay attention to their needs, and make adjustments
As a parent, you know how important it is to pay attention to your children’s needs, including their dental care. When getting them in the habit of brushing their teeth, pay attention to what they struggle with.
For example, if the water is too cold, try using warm after. Introduce kid-friendly toothpaste, like fruity, minty, or unflavoured, as long as it has the right fluoride content and comes dentist-recommended. Finally, check what type of toothbrush your child is using. Sensory issues can make brushing difficult, so make sure they use a soft-bristled brush or an electric one. Get them even more excited by making them pick their toothbrush based on their favourite colours or characters.