Getting your little ones to clean their teeth is a task that’s easier said than done. Trying to reason with a small tyrant who doesn’t want to brush their teeth can be taxing for anyone and few children will regularly brush of their own accord. Strangely, most kids don’t understand the importance of preventing plaque buildup and acid erosion! But that’s where you, the parent, come in.
The UK’s NHS recommends that brushing begins twice a day as soon as a single milk tooth comes through, usually at around the 6 months mark. So how can you get your reluctant brusher to become more enthusiastic and instill a lifetime of good dental habits? Here are a few tips to keep in mind for keeping those pearly whites pearly white!
Before brushing even comes into play, tooth cleaning is still an option. A baby’s first teeth can be wiped with a soft cloth, making the toddler transition into brushing much easier, because they will already be used to the experience.
Children love to imitate adults, so if you’re brushing your teeth, your child will often want to copy you. Model the behaviour that you want them to emulate, and brush together day and night.
Use a fun toothbrush/toothpaste combo
Toothbrushes come in so many colors and patterns, and covered in the faces of favorite characters, it shouldn’t be too hard to find one that strikes the fancy of the little ones in your house. Kids’ toothpaste is often sweeter and more appealing than the adult versions as well – just make sure that your choice has the proper amount of fluoride in it.
Make brushing routine
If brushing is a part of their morning and night time routine – just like bath time, putting on pajamas, and story time – then children will soon realize that tooth brushing is a part of the normal routine, and there is no getting out of it!
Sing and dance
Make it fun! A singalong turns tooth brushing into a game and not a chore to be done. There are lots of tooth brushing games and apps available for download now as well, which should give you something to choose from that will ensure your kids brush properly and for long enough. Two minutes in total is the recommended minimum.
Sometimes kids are more likely to take on knowledge if it isn’t coming from mom and dad. Thank goodness for YouTube! There are loads of videos with cute cartoon characters (and even Elmo) happy to share with your little one the importance of proper dental hygiene. Don’t be afraid to use them.
If all else fails…
Do it yourself! Children are heavy sleepers and teeth need cleaning no matter what, so when your little one is sleeping deeply, give their teeth a gentle brush to get rid of most of the buildup.
If you have tips of your own, please share them with us in the comments below.
Ashley Sheets is a writer and editor covering holistic health and dental hygiene for London Lingual Orthodontic Clinic. She also loves to write about sustainable living and ethical business.