Are you one of the lucky ones whose toddler walks around with a toothbrush in hand all day long, has a treasured toothbrush collection and asks to brush their teeth multiple times a day? If so, encourage and embrace it! Or do you find that your brushing sessions feel more like a wrestling match with an adrenaline powered little human? Either way, creating good oral hygiene habits from early on is crucial to your child’s overall health so here are some tips on how to transform brushing time into a fun activity that everyone can enjoy.
Why is brushing my child’s teeth important?
You may have wondered if brushing your child’s teeth is even worth the challenge if their baby teeth are eventually going to fall out. While it’s true that they will fall out, some stick around until 11-12 years old and baby teeth are just as susceptible to cavities, if not more, than adult teeth. Cavities in baby teeth can be painful, costly to fix and have long lasting effects on the development and spacing of the permanent teeth. Brushing from early on will help your child develop strong habits that give them the best chance at keeping their teeth cavity free and their gums healthy for life.
Now let’s get to those tips, shall we?
1. Groove Out to a Two-Minute Song
The ADA recommends brushing twice a day for at least two minutes. For children, that can feel like an actual eternity! Playing a two-minute song or a music video can help the time fly by and get your child excited for brushing time. Who knows, it may turn into a full-blown dance party that your kiddo will not want to miss! Here are some videos and app suggestions to help those two minutes pass swiftly:
- Brushing Song:
2. Keep Entertained with Chompers
If your little one is curious, enjoys learning new things and likes a good laugh, then Chompers could be the perfect program to keep them entertained during brushing. Chompers is a podcast specifically designed to guide your child through brushing while keeping them engaged with silly jokes, riddles, and fun facts. It also keeps count of the number of times they brush and encourages them to keep up their streaks. The best part is that two new episodes are released daily, so every time your child brushes, the content is fresh. Chompers is intended for children ages three-seven but parents are sure to enjoy it all the same!
3. Give them the Power to Choose
Giving children a choice of toothbrush and toothpaste not only gets them involved but can also drum up some real excitement to care for their teeth. Luckily, there are plenty of fun options for toothbrushes decorated with their favorite cartoon character or animal and several kid-approved flavored toothpastes. Here are a few that we find that kids enjoy:
- Tom’s of Maine Silly Strawberry Toothpaste – a mild flavored fruit toothpaste that is popular among children who are picky about flavors.
- Tanner’s Tasty Paste – available in chocolate and vanilla, this is another toothpaste we often recommend for children who don’t like the other fruity, overly sweet flavored toothpastes available in stores.
4. Together is Better
Many toddlers are rather independent and will insist on brushing themselves. However, they don’t have the manual dexterity yet to do a stellar job all on their own. We encourage toddlers to “share” the job of brushing with their grown-up, where they brush first and you finish the job. You can even try giving your child your toothbrush so they can try to brush your teeth while you brush theirs. And if you can turn brushing into a family affair with parents, brothers and sisters, even better!
5. Bring a Brushing Buddy
Whether it’s your child’s favorite dinosaur, bear, doll, or figurine, that doesn’t leave their side, bring their favorite sidekick along to brushing time! Not only will having their buddy with them provide comfort, but your child can also practice their brushing skills on their friend. Giving your little one the responsibility of caring for their buddy’s teeth just might teach them the importance of caring for their own!
6. Brushing Charts and Prizes
Positive reinforcement is super effective in children so why not use oral hygiene as a way to earn a special prize? You can print one of the many daily brushing charts available online and grab some of your child’s favorite stickers. Each time they brush, they earn a sticker on the chart. This way, kids can visualize their progress and keep motivated! After filling up a whole month, they receive their well-deserved reward!
7. Ask your Pediatric Dentist for Some More Tips
While these are some of our favorite tips, we’ve got more up our sleeves! At Sunshine Smiles Pediatric Dentistry, we know that every child is unique and we love working with you to find the best strategies for your little one. Give us a call 212-729-7915 or schedule an appointment online so we can chat more about your child’s oral health.