If getting your kids to brush their teeth feels like a chore, you can take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 80% of US children start brushing their teeth much later than recommended, and many don’t brush as often as they should (at least twice a day is the recommendation, just like adults).
That’s bad news, because just like adults, children need to practice good oral hygiene in order to avoid cavities and tooth decay. According to reports, over 40% of American children between the ages of two and 19 have some degree of tooth decay. Factors like poor tooth brushing techniques and sugary drinks and snacks tend to make children even more vulnerable to developing cavities and other oral health problems that can persist into adulthood.
The good news is that there are ways to make tooth brushing fun so that your kids get excited about it, and they will develop good oral hygiene habits in the process. At Oasis Pediatric Dental Care and Orthodontics, our dentists Dr. Nathalie Phaeton and Dr. Ki Youn Kil offer a range of dental services for children at our office in Falls Church, Virginia.
No two children are exactly alike, so there are a number of different ways to get them excited about and invested in taking good care of their teeth at an early age. For starters, make sure that you’re taking your child to the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. In addition to cleanings, the dentist will monitor how your children’s teeth are developing.
Here are just a few ways to make tooth brushing fun and engaging for your kids:
If your child has a favorite color or cartoon character, chances are that there are numerous toothbrush models on the market designed after them. Take them to the drugstore for a little field trip and let them choose a toothbrush they love and will want to use when they get home.
Younger children will still need help brushing their teeth, but you can start by giving them a little tutorial of your own. Most children learn by example, and if their parents have good oral hygiene habits, chances are they will too. Let them see you brushing and flossing, and explain what you’re doing in a fun and approachable way they can understand.
Cavities and oral health problems are serious, but tooth brushing time doesn’t have to be. You can make it a fun competition, sing songs, or incorporate role playing. The trick is to turn it into an activity that will feel fun for your kids, rather than like another chore.
Try to make tooth brushing an event that happens at the same time every day so that it becomes a habit. Incentivize them with a simple rewards system to keep them motivated and excited about building long-term oral hygiene habits, whether it’s a sticker at the end of the week, a new toy, or a prize at the end of every month. Positive reinforcement can go a long way toward making five minutes of tooth brushing enjoyable for your kids.
Children with good oral hygiene habits become adults with good oral hygiene habits, and they have less risk of oral health problems like tooth decay and gum disease. For more information about pediatric dentistry and your child’s oral health, call us at 703-498-2440 or schedule an appointment online today.