Let them choose their own toolsGiving kids the opportunity to select their own toothbrush and toothpaste can be a good way to invigorate their interest in oral health habits. Brushes come in a vast range of designs and colours and are often decorated with familiar cartoon characters. Similarly, there are fluoride toothpastes that come in fun flavours and colours.
Make brushing teeth funTooth brushing doesn’t have to be a chore, and can be a fun component of morning and evening routines. Implement one or more of the following to make the experience livelier for your kid:
- Sing or hum songs while teeth are being brushed. You can even have a special tooth brushing song. Adapt lyrics to a familiar tune or find a tooth-care ditty you and your child enjoy.
- Brush your own teeth while they brush theirs. Not only will you be modeling good habits, but brushing teeth together makes the experience more fun for little ones.
- Let them brush your teeth. Kids will get a kick out of brushing Mom or Dad’s teeth while their own pearly whites get cleaned.
- Pretend you’re chasing mini-monsters. Instead of simply brushing teeth, use a toothbrush, paste and a hefty dose of imagination to rid your child’s mouth of mini-monsters. This game makes tooth brushing for an exciting adventure that kids will enjoy.
Set an egg timerIf your kids—or yourself—are in too much of a hurry to get through the task of brushing teeth, use an egg timer or sandglass to make sure brushing lasts a full two minutes. Small hands will enjoy setting off the chosen device.
Use rewardsPositive reinforcement will motivate kids to repeat desired behaviours. Rewards for tooth brushing can be as simple as a word of praise or a hug, or be more involved. Some parents see good results using a sticker reward system, where a sticker is posted on a chart every time the child brushes their teeth and a bigger reward is given when a pre-determined number of stickers are accumulated.
Additional tips for parents of children with autism or ADHDChildren with developmental or neurobehavioural disorders may need additional incentives and reminders to practice good dental hygiene.
- Maintain a specific routine.
- Make sure there’s plenty of time allotted.
- Minimize distractions.
- Let the child do the majority of the brushing.
- Talk them through and/or role model the necessary steps.