As adults, most of us do not even think twice about brushing our teeth in the morning and evening. It is a habit that has been ingrained in us since we were kids, which is probably why you are here—you are wondering how you can get your kids to form the same habits your parents started in you!
At Hempfield Family Dental Care, we pride ourselves on being the go-to people when parents search for pediatric dentistry in Lancaster, PA. Our approach to your child’s dental health is all about making your child as comfortable and relaxed as possible—they are not tiny adults, so they should not be treated as such. That is why everything we do revolves around a customized approach to treatment for your child’s age.
When your children are young, it is vital to get them accustomed to a brushing and flossing routine. In today’s post, we will go over a few tricks that we have learned over the years that will help your child form good oral hygiene early on in life.
Turn Toothbrushing Into a Game
As a parent, you already know that getting your kids to do anything is much easier if they have some incentive. When you turn brushing your teeth into a game, your kids will likely be much more willing to do it twice a day!
If you scour the internet for “toothbrushing games for kids,” you will find a plethora of different fun activities you can try, but here are a few of our favorites:
- Play Copycat – This game is as simple as getting your kids to mimic you as you brush your teeth. In between actually brushing, you can do silly things like make noises or brush your lips to make it more engaging.
- Play a Song – Did you know that you and your children should be brushing your teeth for at least two minutes? Also, is there a song from a movie or show your child loves to sing? If so, it is likely at least two minutes long, so it makes for the perfect “brushing time” song to play.
- Make it a Race – Now, we do not recommend turning brush time into a race to the finish since you want the brushing to be thorough. But a great “race” to play is to try and get your kids to finish brushing one quadrant of their teeth in between commercials. Every time a commercial comes on, quickly run to the bathroom and have them brush a different part of their mouth!
- Offer Rewards – Nothing makes toddlers more upset than bedtime, so why not offer them five more minutes of TV time if they brush their teeth? This is a simple game, but if it works, that is what matters!
Tell a Story
Sometimes kids are a little too sleepy to play any games, or maybe you do not want to boost up their adrenaline right before bedtime. If that is the case, we have found that turning toothbrushing into storytime can be effective at getting your kids into a toothbrushing routine.
After the TV is turned off, head to the bathroom to start the story and have them brush until you are done with the story. Not only does this get your child to brush their teeth, but it is also a great bonding time and a way to wind down right before bed.
Create a Schedule Chart
Similar to offering more TV time for brushing their teeth, some children respond well to more visual methods of rewards. For example, having a chart that your child can make a mark on after they brush their teeth gives them a visual incentive to keep doing it. You can even find various stickers to use if they prefer those to using a marker. Plus, if they fill the chart at the end of the week (or month), you can offer more significant rewards like an extra 30 minutes of TV time!
Let Them Pick Their Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Does your child love to pick out their own outfit for the day, no matter how silly it may seem? While picking out a new toothbrush and toothpaste every day is not necessarily feasible for the long term, it is a good way to get your toddler more “on board” with brushing their teeth.
Even if you only have two or three different toothbrushes for your child, giving them a choice of which one they want to use often makes them more excited to actually brush their teeth. The same goes for toothpaste flavors—by offering your child a choice other than “yes or no” to brushing, you will likely get a better response. Your child is less inclined to say “no” when you give them that choice.
Do Not Forget Flossing
Did you know that it is just as important to acclimate your child to a flossing routine as brushing? While very young children typically have spaces between their teeth, the gaps close very quickly. This means that cavities can occur where the teeth touch and the toothbrush does not quite reach.
At Hempfield Family Dental Care, we recommend that you have your child complete their night-time routine, including brushing. Then, before going to sleep, have them lay in the bed with their head on your lap—face up—so you can see all of their teeth. That will allow you access to floss the plaque from between their teeth, just like we do in the office.
By starting your child at an early age, you will help establish the routine early, making it so they will not feel awkward as they grow older and start flossing themselves.
Looking for Better Pediatric Dentistry in Lancaster, PA?
Starting good oral hygiene habits at an early age is essential for the overall health of your child. At Hempfield Family Dental Care, we know that your child’s health is vital to you—and it is to us, too!
Our focus is on preventative care and helping your child form healthy habits at a young age, all by using patience and understanding. As parents ourselves, we understand the struggles, and we want to make that easier on you. Contact our office today to schedule your child’s first exam or cleaning, and if you have any pediatric dentistry questions, do not hesitate to reach out to us!