Since brushing teeth and flossing is typically done first thing in the morning and right before bed, children tend to associate brushing teeth as a chore. If your child struggles to get up in the morning or tries to avoid going to sleep, then brushing teeth might also come as a struggle. Let’s face it, even as adults these two things can be dreadful. The difference is, as adults we know the responsibility of a decent bedtime and alarm clock. Most importantly, by now we’ve learned that brushing teeth prevents tooth decay and gingivitis.
If your child is currently struggling to brush his or her teeth, you’re not alone. This tends to be a common issue among parents. No need to sign up for a group support team because we’re here to offer you tips on easy changes that can make brushing teeth a seamless part of your child’s routine today. You might even forget brushing and flossing was ever a problem.
Tip #1: Brush and floss with them.
Children mimic behaviors of those around them the most – their siblings and parents. As a parent, this gives you an opportunity to make brushing a family activity as opposed to a sole task. Try creating a routine where the whole family goes to the bathroom sink and takes turns brushing. Allow your child to sit back and watch then have someone brush with him or her so it can feel like a group effort as opposed to an “ask and do” chore. Kids are especially impressed by their older siblings. If you have an older child in the home, try entrusting that child with the responsibility of brushing and flossing with their younger sibling every morning and night.
Tip #2: Turn it into a game.
You may have seen those charts full of stickers that your child’s teacher created as a reading log. In the same manner, you can create a chart that tracks brushing and flossing. By coding stickers: one for brushing and the other for flossing, you can create a game that encourages your child to reach a certain amount of stickers for a reward. For example, once he or she reaches 10 stickers they can get extra TV time on Saturday. To make the environment of brushing and flossing even more rewarding, turn it into a dance party. Similar to musical chairs, turn on music while brushing then stop it to spit and rinse. Repeat these activities daily to create healthy habits.
Tip #3: Talk about it.
If tips one and two are successful, then you can try implementing the next suggestion. Now that your child is enjoying brushing and flossing, you can begin discussing the meaningful health benefits behind it. Terms like gingivitis and tooth decay won’t make sense without real-life examples. Try switching up their favorite bedtime stories with a few books that teach oral hygiene. For example, author Alicia Padron’s Brush, Brush, Brush introduces toddlers (ages 0-2) to toothbrushing with fun and colorful illustrations. Other recommended books include Brush Your Teeth Please by Leslie Mcguire, Sugarbug Doug by Dr. Ben Magleby, and Ready, Set, Brush by Che Rudko, a Sesame Street book. These books are good for children between ages 2-4. For older children, The Tooth Book: A Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums by Edward Miller introduces scientific information on teeth through diagrams and fun pictures.
Small changes today can set up children for long term success
A child’s phase of not brushing teeth may seem like a passing inconvenience (and we certainly hope it is) but not brushing and flossing can have negative repercussions down the road. By implementing these small changes today, you can help ensure that your child will continue to care for their teeth into their teens and adulthood. At Lee Trevino Dental, our pediatric dentist can help ensure your child’s teeth are healthy and vital. Schedule a visit with us today and feel secure knowing your children’s teeth are in good hands!