Luckily, maintaining a healthy mouth and gums requires very little for most kids except daily teeth brushing and flossing. This means you can get your child off to a great start by teaching them the skills to take care of their oral health from a young age.
While the task of brushing one's teeth may take a relatively short time to perform and be a simple skill to master, many toddlers and even older children are resistant to getting into the habit of brushing their teeth on a daily basis.
At Smile Zone, since we are an all kids dental clinic, we are experienced in kids’ dental care - both at our dental office and while at home. Follow these four simple steps listed here to help your child become an independent toothbrusher and develop a healthy, self-motivated oral hygiene routine.
1. Model Good Behavior
Children are always watching the adults and older children in their lives, and modeling good brushing and flossing behavior each and every day is a great way to set a positive example for kids.
For very little ones, walk them through each step of the process out loud and allow them to mirror you with their own tiny toothbrush. Brushing teeth while making funny faces in the mirror together is a great way to start associating teeth brushing with fun.
2. Set up a Predictable Daily Routine
Building a habit takes practice. Set a child up for success by establishing a routine into your morning and evening rituals. When kids get up in the morning, make brushing their teeth the first on their list of things for getting themselves ready.
For very young children, tooth brushing should be supervised, but for older ones this can be something that they do on their own (once they know how to brush effectively) without the need for parental supervision. A sticker chart or other motivational tool is a great way to keep track and encourage kids to stick to the habit.
For the bedtime routine, make sure you don’t wait until too late in the day for children to brush and floss their teeth because they may be tired and grouchy, causing more resistance to toothbrushing than if it was done earlier in the evening.
3. Set a Timer
Setting a timer or using digital games helps motivate children to brush for a full 120 seconds, or two minutes, which is suggested by the American Dental Association. Check out this list of “Ten Games for Kids That Won’t Brush Their Teeth” to add an extra level of fun and excitement to the task.
A fun twist on the timer would be to use a favorite song that’s around two minutes long and play it while they’re brushing. Better yet, join the fun and dance along with your kids while they brush their teeth for the entire duration of the song! This can be a fun morning or evening bonding ritual that sparks positive memories for years to come.
4. Make Teeth Brushing Appealing
While you may gently clean an infant’s mouth with warm water on a washcloth, toothpaste and a brush is recommended for most toddlers and older children. Toddlers can get just a tiny pea sized amount and should be reminded not to swallow it, while older children can start using the same amounts as adults.
To make kids’ dental care more appealing to your little ones, take them with you to the store to choose their own appealing flavor of toothpaste.
Brushing teeth can be fun with popular toothpaste flavors like:
You can also invest in an electric toothbrush with a cartoon character on it so that kids associate the fun of their favorite cartoons with brushing their teeth. It’s a great way to motivate little ones to go pick up their toothbrush and get brushing!
Flexible Appointments for Busy Families
Because we are an all kids dental center and we cater to busy families, we offer early morning, weekend, and evening appointments. Simply call us at (530) 230-0081 to schedule an appointment today. We are located at 718 W. Onstott Frontage Rd. in Yuba City, California. Our office accepts most insurance plans, and we welcome emergency walk-in patients.
At Smile Zone kids dental clinic, we serve children and teenagers with regular kids dental cleanings, routine dental care, and advanced pediatric dentistry services. All in a safe and caring kids’ dental environment. Our staff members are excellent at giving our young patients a fun, positive, and welcoming trip to the dentist!