Did you know that 20 percent of children between the ages of 1 and 5 have at least one untreated tooth decay? (CDC) And that cavities are one of the most common chronic diseases for children in the United States.
While these statistics are certainly alarming, the good news is that cavities and other oral health issues are 100 percent preventable with the right dental hygiene.
However, the problem is that most kids don’t enjoy brushing and flossing their teeth and parents don’t prioritize dropping by dentists for regular checkups.
Luckily, there are things you can do to make dental care more fun for your kids.
Check out this guide to learn about tooth-brushing games and other techniques to make dental hygiene fun.
How to Make Dental Care Fun For Kids
Play Tooth Brushing Games
Children love games, and games are a great way for children to learn.
One of the best ways to encourage brushing is to turn it into a game. Start with a story: For example, tell your children that there are little “sugar bugs” in their teeth. And that the only defense against these sugar bugs is to attack them with a toothbrush.
To take things to another level, you can even tie a cape around your child, so they’ll feel like a real superhero defeating the sugar bugs!
However, ensure you don’t make the sugar bugs sound too scary, as this could be traumatizing for your child!
Other game ideas include:
Brushing During Commercial Break
Commercial breaks are around 30 seconds long, which is the perfect amount of time for your child to brush a quarter of their month.
So, during each commercial break, please have your child rush to the bathroom and brush a quadrant of their mouth for thirty seconds. By the time they’re done, the show is back on. Keep doing this until their whole mouth is brushed.
Set a Timer
Buy a cool-looking timer that’s filled with sand. Then, challenge your child to brush their teeth until the timer has run out.
Or, you can even buy your child a toothbrush that blinks and plays music for 2 minutes.
Brush to the Music
Who doesn’t love rocking out to some great tunes?
To make brushing time go by faster, play some music so your kids can dance along as they brush their teeth.
There are plenty of apps that play 2-minute songs for kids trying to stick to a brushing habit. Start Teeth and Brush DJ are among the most popular.
Or, you could play a song your child loves to get their mind off the brushing.
Let Them Pick Out Their Products
Kids enjoy brushing a lot more when they’re able to use oral hygiene products that they actually like.
So, take your kid to the store and let them pick out their own toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss.
Children’s toothpaste comes in various flavors and colors, so even if you have the pickiest of children, they’ll be sure to find something they like.
It may turn out that a sparkly pink toothbrush and Elmo toothpaste is the difference between good and bad oral hygiene!
Set a Good Example
When teaching your kids good oral hygiene, you must make sure you practice what you preach.
After all, children emulate what their parents do. So, if your child sees you flossing, they’re more likely to floss themselves.
To add a little fun to this, you can pretend to be a mirror the next time you brush your teeth. Everything you do, your child has to do as well.
It’s never too early to make brushing and flossing a part of your child’s nightly and morning routine.
In fact, dentists recommend starting an oral hygiene routine for your child even before their first tooth arrives. During infancy, you should wipe your child’s mouth with a damp, soft cloth. Then when their teeth start to come in, switch to a toothbrush. (Typically, this is around the age of 2 or 3.)
Also, regardless of how many teeth your child has, you should schedule a dental visit for their first birthday. You can learn more about the pediatric dental process here.
Basically, the more oral hygiene is ingrained into your child’s routine, the more likely they are to have good dental health.
Give it a Positive Spin
If your children view brushing their teeth as a chore, they won’t want to do it.
So, give oral hygiene a positive spin as much as you can. Instead of telling your children they “have to” brush their teeth, tell them that they “get to’ brush their teeth”. Highlight to them the positives of brushing and flossing: it gives you a shiny white smile, you get fresh breath, and you get to use your cool toothbrush!
The more positive you can make the experience, the more excited your kids will be about brushing and flossing.
Choose the Right Tools
Brushing and flossing can be difficult for small hands.
Therefore, you want to make sure you choose kid-friendly oral hygiene products.
Power toothbrushes, toddler toothbrushes, and flosses with dull edges are all a good idea.
Because small children don’t yet have the dexterity to use “adult-sized” oral hygiene products, they’ll find them much easier. Which in turn will make their daily brushing routine all that more enjoyable.
Are You Ready to Help Your Kids Step Up Their Oral Hygiene?
By implementing these tooth brushing games and tricks, your children will have much better oral hygiene.
Just remember that good oral hygiene doesn’t happen overnight. So, be patient with your kids and yourself regarding their oral hygiene.
The long-term goal should be to set up an oral hygiene routine that they can one day implement without your help.
Comment below with questions, and remember to check back in with our blog for more parenting tips and tricks!