Does your child struggle with the everyday routine of tooth brushing? This is a common challenge that many parents and their children face. Yet, there are some simple ways to get them to develop a healthy oral care routine without an argument or having to call a timeout. In fact, once you your child gets the hang of it, you’ll be amazed at how enthusiastic they are to brush.
The time to begin introducing tooth brushing habits is not when they already have a full set of teeth and the words to argue with you! Instead, begin reinforcing the importance of brushing teeth as soon as the first teeth begin to appear. Tell them on a regular basis that daily brushing will help them keep a healthy smile and prevent painful cavities.
Set a Good Example
The best way to encourage your child to get into the habit of daily tooth brushing is to brush with them. Get down on their level and let them see how you brush your teeth. Demonstrate by brushing gently up-and-down, in circles or back and forth, whatever is easiest for them, for at least two minutes, and don’t forget to show them how you brush your tongue as well as floss.
Involve Your Kids In Toothpaste Purchasing Decisions
Today’s parents and kids have more flavors and varieties of toothpaste to choose from than ever before. Choose a kid-friendly toothpaste that your child will like and be sure to involve them in the decision making process! In giving them the choice they will be more likely to look forward to brushing. Just be sure to purchase small tubes as tastes can change. Who knows -- they might even look forward to using up each tube in order to try out a new flavor!
Not all Toothbrushes Are Created Equal: Bristles Matter!
Not all toothbrushes are created equal. Standard nylon toothbrushes can be especially harsh and irritating for children’s delicate, sensitive gums. Children (and adults too!) often brush much too aggressively, which can lead to serious problems later on in life! Remember just as faster and harder brushing does not result in cleaner teeth; neither medium or hard bristles clean any better than soft bristles.
The safest option is the PeriKids Ultra Soft toothbrush which features patented rubber bristles that are gentle, even on the gums of young children.
It can be tempting to continue to brush your child’s teeth long after they have sufficient manual dexterity to brush their own. However, this approach does not help them develop the lifelong skills they need to keep their teeth and gums healthy. At around two years old, teach your child how to put toothpaste on a toothbrush and master toothbrushing techniques. Yes, you may need to offer some help early on, but you will be going a long way towards establishing early dental habits.
Make It Fun
Toothbrushing time should be a time for fun instead of a chore or a battle of wills. Make toothbrushing a family event and figure out who can make the silliest face while showing off their pearly whites.
Have everyone hum to a tune, or play a favorite song to ensure you and your family are brushing long enough. Consider even downloading an app such as Brush DJ, which plays two minutes of music from your library. Click here and here to find lists of some other popular dental health apps for kids.
Early tooth brushing establishes a foundation for a lifetime of healthy oral care. Provide positive reinforcement when your child remembers to brush on their own or when they’ve mastered the ability to brush for two minutes. Consider incorporating incentives by creating a sticker chart and giving them stars for when they proactively brush their teeth without a reminder.
Two minutes, morning and night, tooth brushing is a small fraction of your child’s day, but it can have a profoundly positive effect. By making oral care a priority and not an afterthought at the end of the day, you can help ensure your child’s healthy smile for a lifetime.
Dr. Jack Gruber, DDS is a leading authority in the silent epidemic of gum recession and gum disease and an award-winning periodontist in clinical practice for more than four decades. He recently authored Dr. Gruber’s Guide to Understanding and Reversing Gum Disease. After many years of research and testing, Dr. Gruber created the PeriClean, an alternative to standard nylon toothbrushes to combat gum recession caused by toothbrush abrasion. Its design minimizes forceful brushing that causes damage to the teeth and gums while removing plaque with a textured surface.