We all know how important it is to brush your teeth at least twice a day to prevent gum disease and cavities. However, since most children struggle long-term thinking, convincing them to brush their teeth can sometimes be an uphill battle. Below are some tips to help convince your child that tooth brushing is a fun, rewarding, normal activity.
Get a New Toothbrush
This may seem like a small thing, but from a child’s perspective, a new toothbrush is like an exciting new toy. You can surprise them with a new brush featuring their favorite TV or movie character, or simply opt for a new color. Some children feel more invested if they get to select the toothbrush themselves at the store. If you’re really struggling to make brushing a habit, you might consider making getting a new toothbrush a fun new ritual each month – even if it’s not completely necessary. You may also find that having a few different toothbrushes helps to pique your child’s interest. Getting to select which toothbrush to use each night can make it feel more fun.
Use Flavored Toothpaste
Most adults are used to the taste of minty toothpaste, but children are more sensitive and may dislike the strong taste. Luckily, toothpastes are available in all sorts of flavor, from chocolate, to marshmallow, to strawberry, and even bacon. Spend some time browsing around the internet for a fun new flavor, and try different ones until you find a match. If your tot simply hates every flavor you bring home, brushing without toothpaste altogether is better than nothing at all.
Your child is much less likely to brush their teeth if they feel they are the only one undergoing this unique form of dental torture. Let them see you brushing your teeth, and consider doing it together. Once your toddler sees that everyone brushes their teeth, they will be much more likely to accept it for themselves.
Create a Reward System
We have already mentioned that children are simply not incentivized by the threat of cavities or gum disease. They are much more motivated by short-term rewards than long-term good hygiene. So, you could consider keeping a sticker calendar, and providing a reward once a certain goal has been met.
If you ever get too frustrated, remember that you have been brushing your teeth – probably twice per day, if not more – for years. But for your child, this is a fairly new experience. It has not become habit, and they are not used to the idea or sensation of teeth brushing. As long as you maintain your patience and avoid making tooth brushing a punishment, even the most stubborn child should be able to make brushing part of a normal routine, just as you did.
Lowcountry Dental Arts is a James Island family dentist specializing in dental crowns, tooth whitening, dental exams, root canals, oral surgery, and more. To schedule an appointment, click here.