How can we encourage kids to brush their teeth? Really, how can we encourage them to love brushing — without having to stand over their shoulder and watch them brush their teeth for two minutes. Too many parents don’t have that kind of patience, or time, and too often, kids run the water and get away without brushing.
So how do we make it fun?
The first step is to try and personalize their toothbrush or toothpaste. Do they have a favorite TV character? It’s pretty easy to find kids toothbrushes with a range of character designs, and letting them pick it out might just help improve it. Maybe your kid thinks the toothpaste you buy tastes bad, so they need to see all the options for themselves. It can take a little bit of time, but giving them the freedom to choose their dental hygiene options may make all the difference.
The second step is to try and incorporate some kind of distraction into the routine. Does your kid have a favorite song, or do they like to listen to the radio? If you find something that’s roughly 2 minutes long, even better! You can challenge them to brush for the entire length of the song, and because hopefully, they’re enjoying the music, it’ll seem like a breeze to them. Another option is to tell them a story, whether it’s from a book or you make it up; the idea is to keep them distracted so that the tooth-brushing just happens. Some people have had success with watching TV while brushing their teeth, but music or a book is a lot easier to bring into a bathroom!
The third step is bringing them into the dentist! No, this isn’t so the dentist can scare them into brushing their teeth. We wouldn’t do that. It’s so they can get used to the dentist as being a friendly place, which in turn would hopefully make brushing their teeth less of a chore. The sooner kids can form good dental habits, the better. Nobody looks forward to a lifetime of cavities after all, do they?
Think about what tactic might work best for your child, and talk to them about why brushing is so important. Sometimes all kids need is a good explanation for why they have to do something, and they’ll be a lot more willing to do it afterwards.