If you think you’re busy, imagine being a kid! Life for kids can feel like a whirlwind of school, activities, and family time. And on top of that, they’re learning something new every single day! Learning how to take care of themselves can be liberating for kids, but it can also be overwhelming. One of the big, important life skills that every child needs to learn is how to brush their own teeth.
Helping your child get in the habit of brushing twice a day for two minutes is no small feat. We think kids have a pretty simple philosophy: If they have fun doing something they’re supposed to do, they’re happy to do it. That’s why we think a little creativity can go a long way for parents. We can make a big impact on our kids’ long-term dental health when we apply that philosophy.
Here's How to Make Brushing FUN For Kids
The best way to encourage brushing and flossing in young children is to find some way to make it fun — really fun! Don’t just set a timer and supervise. Make brushing and flossing the most-anticipated event of the evening! The trick is to be creative and mix things up. Here are some of our favorite ideas:
- Play by Play: Challenge them to brush without stopping for the full two minutes and narrate their brushing moves like a car-racing announcer at the speedway.
- Balancing Act: Stand on one foot when they brush their bottom teeth! Switch to the other foot when they brush their top teeth!
- Bust a Move: Set up a Bluetooth speaker in the bathroom, crank up their favorite song, and have a 2-minute dance party while brushing!
- The Talking Toothbrush: Give their toothbrush its own personality and voice. Speak for Toothbrush, and let your child know Toothbrush is excited to do a good job cleaning his or her teeth: “Yayyy! It’s time to brush! I’ve been waiting all night to brush-brush-brush! Are you ready??”
- Silly Spectator: Maybe your child is a famous rockstar toothbrusher, and everything on the bathroom counter is their biggest fan.
- Talking Toothpaste: Give your child two different flavors of toothpaste to choose from. The lucky toothpaste of the day can exclaim, “Oh, wow! She picked me today! She picked me! It’s my lucky day!”
- Monkey-See, Monkey-Do: Brush your teeth with your child and have them copy all the moves you make. You can make silly faces while you brush or strike a silly pose!
Start a Routine and Stick to It!
It can be so tempting to let your child skip brushing after a long day. When your normal schedule is off (like when you’re on vacation), it can be easier to just let it slide. But we would encourage you to start a routine and try your best to stick to it. The more brushing becomes second nature for kids, the easier it will be in the long run to make sure your child is brushing twice a day every day.
For some kids, being able to check a box when they’ve completed a task can feel really satisfying. We love crossing things off our To-Do lists — why wouldn’t kids?? That’s why we designed a fun, easy toothbrushing chart that you can print at home!
Make brushing personalized! Brushing with a toothbrush is OK, but let’s face it — brushing with a toothbrush that lights up as it spins is COOL! Let your child choose their own toothbrush, one in their favorite color. Or, you can upgrade! There are several fun options for kids, including toothbrushes with lights or ones that play fun sounds or music. Kids may be more inclined to brush if they have a toothbrush they love using.
Recruit Their Favorite Characters to Back You Up
Which character does your child love the most? Find ways to incorporate their favorite characters into their toothbrushing routines. There are so many awesome shows that talk specifically about brushing.
Here are some great songs/videos from our favorite characters:
- Elmo sings “Brushy Brush,” (Warning: this song will stick with you forever!)
- Daniel Tiger’s Teeth Brushing Song
- Micky Mouse’s Brush to the Beat
There are so many fun videos with kids’ favorite characters. And sometimes, it’s just helpful to hear the same message from someone else! So recruit their favorite character to back you up on why it’s important to brush.
Recruit Their Favorite Characters to Back You Up
Make brushing rewarding! Great jobs deserve rewards! Why not reward your child for good hygiene? Sing them a song, tell them a story, or give them a gold star! Perhaps they get a gold star on a chart like our handy, dandy chart. What if they get a note from the Tooth Fairy? A perfect week of brushing could make that happen! There are many options for positive reinforcement for your child. The more they love brushing, the better the chances they’ll stick with it throughout their lifetimes.
Why is dental care so important for kids?
You may have heard that baby teeth can’t get cavities, or that cavities in baby teeth aren’t that big of a deal. But baby teeth are just as susceptible to cavities as permanent teeth. Besides the pain a cavity can cause, the problem with baby teeth that fall out early due to tooth decay is that these can affect the positions in which the permanent teeth erupt. Baby teeth are also necessary for proper eating, drinking, and speaking. For more resources, here’s our guide to everything you need to know about cavities and how to prevent them.
Compassionate pediatric dental care
At the Center for Pediatric Dental Health, we are passionate about creating beautiful smiles in children. We want your kids to live their healthiest lives possible. We’re here to help! We want to create the healthiest smiles possible.
Oral hygiene is key to a healthy smile, and the earlier it becomes a routine, the better. We want to help you provide the tools you need to get your kids off on the right foot. If you ever have any questions or needs, just ask us!
We are here to serve patients in the West Central New Jersey area, and we’d love to meet you! Visit the Center for Pediatric Dental Health offices and see what we can do for you and your family!