February is National Children’s Dental Health Month and it’s not too late to get serious about your kid’s oral health. Getting small children into a tooth brushing routine while they are young can set them up for success later in life. Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children and it is entirely preventable with regular brushing. Your oral health is just as important as your physical health. You should take your child (and yourself!) to the dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings as part of your care routine.
Younger kids may not want to brush their teeth or may struggle to do so. If you have smaller children, they need extra help brushing until they are about 7 or 8 years old. Dentists recommend using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste that you put on the toothbrush for them. You should also supervise your kids when they brush their teeth and make sure that it happens at least twice a day.
Here are a few fun ways to get your kids excited about brushing:
Playing music will help keep kids brushing for a full two minutes. Play one of their favorite songs and let them dance around while they brush their teeth. Play a song for two minutes and once the music stops, they are finished brushing.
Have Them Practice on Others
If your child resists having their teeth brushed, they may be scared or confused. Let them practice on a stuffed animal or doll and make the experience fun. This way, you can teach your kids good brushing techniques and make the process less intimidating. If you are feeling adventurous, you can even let your kids practice on you. For this, we recommend a soft bristle brush!
Use a Child Friendly Toothpaste
Nowadays, toothpaste comes in a variety of flavors and colors. Your local grocery store will sell toothpaste for kids that has their favorite cartoon character on the packaging. Your child will be eager to brush their teeth every morning and night if it means spending time with their favorite character. Toothpaste comes in “kid-friendly” flavors like bubblegum, berry, and other fruit flavors. Kids like sweets, so brushing their teeth could be a treat all in itself.
Give Rewards for Good Brushing Habits
Make brushing their teeth a positive experience. Keep track of when your kids brush their teeth with a calendar. You can let your kids pick out their favorite stickers and for every time they brush, they can place one sticker on that calendar day. At the end of the week or the month, you can give them a small reward for good brushing habits. Maybe they can have a special snack, a new toy, or a few extra minutes of playtime. When kids see value in brushing their teeth, they will want to do it.
Let Them Be Independent
Every child gets to the age when they want to start doing things for themselves. Taking care of their teeth is a great way for them to learn responsibility. Let your child find the toothbrush and apply the toothpaste. Allowing them to brush their own teeth helps develop their motor skills and confidence. This goes hand-in-hand with the tip above, providing rewards. If they get all their stickers for brushing per week, they will feel accomplished and proud of themselves.
Set a Good Example
When kids see mom or dad flossing and brushing their teeth, they will want to do it too. Being a good role model will show your kids the importance of oral health and brushing daily. Allow your kids to brush their teeth with you and make it a family affair. This is the best way to get them excited about brushing their teeth and you will know whether or not they really brushed.
To celebrate Children’s Dental Health Month, our friends at The Mighty Mouth are having a video contest for kids to show off their best #FlossDance. Check out The Mighty Mouth on Facebook and get more information about the contest here.