It’s important to introduce children to good oral health from a young age, to help them create lasting good habits of looking after their teeth.
Getting kids to brush their teeth can at times be really difficult as many parents will know, but it’s so important to persevere and ensure their little teeth get thoroughly cleaned. When they are too young to do it themselves, parents need to make sure they are looking after their little one’s teeth to help prevent any dental problems down the road.
Starting a lifelong habit
While, according to the experts, your child won’t be old enough to brush his own teeth until the age of eight, you can still get them used to the habit of brushing their teeth. Get them to help you hold the brush, and pick out their own toothbrush, to help them get excited about it.
Get your toddler to use their finger to feel where their teeth are, this will help them understand where they’re brushing. Give them a pea-sized amount of children’s toothpaste (if younger than 18 months just use water), and encourage them to get in there. While they’re still at a young age you’ll need to check their teeth and follow up yourself with a thorough scrub of each tooth, particularly around the gum line and make sure you get any spots that have been missed.
Fun and games
Children don’t typically like to do things they find boring, so find a way to make the experience of cleaning teeth fun for them, maybe do it while they’re watching TV, or make a game out of it.
By making the process of brushing fun and interactive, you can help encourage your child to cooperate with brushing twice a day, and if you manage to floss as well, even better. Create a game that is reserved just for when they brush their teeth, something that will help your child get excited about that time of the day.
Get the family involved
A good tactic in getting your child to brush their teeth is to make it a family activity. If your child sees their parents brushing their teeth, and enjoying the process, it will encourage them to join in too. Get the whole family involved, siblings as well, as they provide great role models. You can almost guarantee if a toddler sees an older sibling doing something, they’ll want to do it too! And why not include the pets as well. If your pet’s good at getting his teeth brushed, let your toddler watch and use this as added encouragement.
Seeing everyone else in the family brush their teeth, will help your toddler see that brushing teeth is nothing to worry about and that everybody does it. If they still feel a bit unsure, you can also see if they want to brush with a buddy such as a soft toy, to make them feel more comfortable.
Reward their effort
Create a chart to record your child’s progress. Children are very visual and will enjoy being able to see what they’ve achieved, and maybe getting fun stickers or stamps will get them more likely to brush their teeth without protest.
You can create some sort of reward system that involves a special treat if your child manages to brush their teeth every day for a week or a month. Praise them for the achievement so they associate brushing teeth with something good.
Distraction is sometimes necessary
If nothing is working and you need to get the job done, try distraction. If your child really doesn’t enjoy brushing their teeth, try doing it while they’re distracted by something else, whether a video, music or even while they’re in the bath. The bath can be a great time to brush teeth, as they are already relaxed and having fun splashing around, this can make the task less messy and means they’re in an easy, reclining position making it easier for teeth cleaning.
Getting children to brush their teeth is a challenge for many parents, it can be hard to get them to stay still for longer than two minutes at the best of times. Try out these simple tips to help get you started, and hopefully get your toddler on the path to a life of healthy teeth.
About The Author:
This article was written by Karleen Giampietro, Practice General Manager at Smile Solutions. Karleen is also a registered dental nurse and the Tooth Fairy for Smile Solutions.