How to Teach Your Child to Brush Their Teeth
Did you know that the number one chronic childhood disease in the United States is tooth decay? For this reason, it is important parents teach children how to brush teeth and develop good oral hygiene habits so that they can enjoy healthy baby teeth later on.
However, we also understand how hard it is to get kids to tolerate teeth brushing—much less get them to do it on their own. Thankfully, our Grand Rapids pediatric dentist has a few tips for how to get children to brush teeth.
Let Them Pick Their Own Toothbrush
Have your child pick out their own toothbrush the next time you go grocery shopping. Children’s toothbrushes are sold in a range of colors and may even feature your child’s favorite cartoon characters. Letting your child pick out their own toothbrush can help them accept responsibility for their oral health.
Practice Teeth Brushing on Toy
If your child feels anxious about having their teeth brushed, we recommend having them practice on one of their dolls or stuffed animals (with the bristles facing away). Be sure to ask your child questions during the process like “How does [Toy’s name] feel about having a healthy mouth?”
Once your child sees that brushing their teeth is nothing to worry about, they may be able to move past their fear and start healthy teeth habits for children their age. Your family dentist should also be able to give you tips on how to encourage healthy oral hygiene habits for children.
Sing a Fun Song
If your child doesn’t like to brush their teeth, you may want to try distracting them with their favorite song. Whether you choose a song from school or the theme song to their favorite TV show, make sure it’s something they would like to hear you sing.
Singing a song is also a sneaky way of getting your child to keep brushing their teeth until the song is over. If your child doesn’t brush their teeth long enough, singing can be a great way to teach them to brush more thoroughly. For more dental care tips for parents, be sure to consult with your child’s pediatric dentist.
Set an Example
Your children learn by following your example, which includes teeth brushing. Many parents find it easier to get their children to accept teeth brushing if they see that you also have to brush your teeth. If it helps, you may want to consider setting a routine where you and your child brush your teeth together.
Children often have an easier time accepting teeth brushing if they see that it’s just a part of everyday life. If you treat teeth brushing as an essential way to maintain a healthy smile, your children will adopt the same attitude.
Let Your Child’s Imagination Run Wild
Children are often praised for their imagination, which is good when you’re trying to explain how invisible plaque on their teeth causes cavities. It can be hard for children to understand the consequences of not brushing their teeth, which is why we recommend having a conversation with your child about how to protect their teeth against the “bad guys” called plaque and bacteria.
After the conversation, provide your child with crayons and markers so they can draw what they think the “bad guys” look like. Once your child is happy with their drawing, be sure to hang it up in the bathroom to serve as a reminder of what could happen if they don’t brush their teeth.
Dr. Spraggins DDS at River Valley Dental is dedicated to helping young patients learn oral health habits that will last a lifetime. To learn more about our pediatric dental services, be sure to call our Grand Rapids pediatric dentistry at (616) 363-5677.