Top Parenting Hacks To Raise Kids With Good Oral Hygiene Habits
There’s just something about spending two minutes with your mouth open while a funny, minty-tasting substance is spread on your teeth using a bristly object that makes kids just want to say, ”No!” Even the ones who do enjoy brushing their teeth may not like it all the time. So what can you do as a parent without resorting to the dreaded phrase “because I told you so”? This post will give you some amazing ways to get your kids to grow fond of good oral habits. We hope it makes at-home care a little easier on you and a lot more fun for your kids.
1. Brush teeth earlier at night.
The Brush, Book, Bed program from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has a simple and clear message for parents: Help your child brush their teeth, read a book (or two) afterward, and get them to bed at roughly the same time each night. It’s pretty straightforward. But sometimes it can be tempting to skip this nightly routine, particularly if you’re too tired or it takes your little one a few tries to properly clean their teeth. Making toothbrushing time earlier at night means you’ll have more time for this oral habit before your young one’s actual bedtime, and (hopefully) you’ll be less tempted to skip it.
2. Tell toothbrush stories.
Most children enjoy story time. If that’s true for your child, why not add this into your oral care habits? You can create a hero who’s tasked with destroying Sugar Bugs using the legendary mighty Bristle Force and Tooth Pastia sidekick to save Mouthlandia from invasion. Use your imagination to inspire your child to clean all their teeth as well as their gumline and tongue. If you’re having trouble creating a fictional character, use picture books instead. “Tooth Monsters,” “I Want My Tooth,” and “How to Brush Your Teeth with Snappy Croc” are just a few fun resources you can use to teach your child the importance of good oral hygiene habits.
3. Play toothbrushing games.
Kids may not like brushing or flossing for different reasons, but for every child, one thing remains the same: Kids are less likely to be afraid or apprehensive about the activity if it turns into a game. You can play games like “Simon Says,” where you take turns being Simon and say things like “Simon says gently move your brush back and forth on your teeth” or “Simon says tilt your brush upside down and brush your furthest tooth.” Or maybe even try a go-and-stop game. Here you’ll only brush your child’s teeth when they have their mouth open, making silly faces the whole time, then stop when they close their mouth. It’s a fun way to encourage your child (particularly toddlers) to open their mouth and let you brush their teeth.
4. Use a toothbrush timer app.
Everyone needs to brush their teeth for two minutes, or 30 seconds for each quadrant of the mouth. Kids can easily feel like it’s been two minutes after only 20 seconds, which makes our little ones less than effective at cleaning teeth. Of course, when they’re younger, you can keep track of how long they spend brushing their teeth, but as they get older (and crave more independence), you may need to find an alternative method to make sure they spend the appropriate length of time brushing.
Here’s where a brushing app can help. Brushy Time has a pirate and parrot that talk to kids for two minutes, while Disney Magic Timer awards kids who brush longer with prizes for a magic album. Consider your child’s age and interests, and you’ll have an easier time finding a fun timer app to encourage them to brush for the full two minutes.
5. Sing toothbrushing songs.
Kids’ love of music starts at a very young age. You’ll notice how much they love it when you sing to them—even when you’re off-key or say the wrong words. It doesn’t make the experience any less enjoyable for them. So if you’re having a tough time getting your child to say “ahh,” tap into your inner Katy Perry and let your little one hear you roar (literally). This may just be all the encouragement your child needs to loosen up their vocal cords and join your toothbrushing singing session. And as you know, it’s impossible not to have fun when belting out your favorite tune.
Have fun dental experiences.
Another great way to make your child grow fond of good oral habits is to make sure they have fun dental experiences. At Staley Dental, our Boise-based team takes a compassionate approach to dental care that calms even the most anxious patient. Contact us today to make an evaluation for your child, and allow us to create a positive and comfortable dental experience for your little one. We look forward to helping you protect the smile you love the most—your child’s!