Kids are cute—and they’re dirty.
Don’t get us wrong. No one loves kids more than pediatric dentists—we get to work on their heartwarming smiles every day. It’s one of the most rewarding jobs anyone could ask for. But it also provides us with a front-row seat to the plaque and tartar horror show that some children call a mouth.
If we’re honest with ourselves, kids are kind of like cute little cavemen that we have to civilize and socialize. Left up to their own devices, they would run around and play all day, get sweaty and dirty, eat nothing but candy and then simply crawl into bed only to wake up the next day and do the same thing all over again. Needless to say, their dental care routine—or lack thereof—wouldn’t exactly promote good oral health and hygiene.
Cute little cavemen or not, good dental hygiene habits don’t come as second nature to most kids and a lot of parents struggle to get them to brush and floss. So, if you’re having a hard time figuring out how to get your kids to brush their teeth and floss twice a day, you’re not alone.
Fortunately, getting your kids to take care of their teeth doesn’t have to be as hard as… well, as hard as pulling teeth.
Make a Game of It
Kids love games. Board games, card games, video games, you name it. As long as it has those four letters, “G-A-M-E”, you can be certain that kids will be interested. Turning brushing and flossing into a game can help improve your child’s oral and dental health. Games can also help your child practice brushing so that the real thing won’t seem so difficult.
Making a game of counting—and even naming—teeth is a fun way to help your little ones learn their numbers and develop a sense of ownership over their oral hygiene. Games with repeat value, in particular, will help your child develop strong habits. Timing devices, musicals, and even clips from their favourite shows are all great ways to get kids motivated to break out their toothbrush and dental floss.
Get Them Their Own Dental Care Tools
If your child brushes but refuses to floss, then having them pick out their own, nifty dental care tools might be how to get your kids to floss their teeth regularly—and effectively. Floss picks, for example, make flossing easier for kids as they don’t have to unspool a long string. And child-themed floss picks have the friendly faces of movie characters that your child will recognize.
Regular dental floss, however, doesn’t work for all children. Kids with braces and bridges tend to avoid flossing not because they’re cavepeople but because their dental apparatus makes the task too difficult. In that case, have your child pick out an American Dental Association approved water flosser. The ADA has clinically proven that proper use of a water flosser reduces your child’s risk—and yours—of developing gum disease and gingivitis.
The same goes for your child’s toothbrushes and toothpaste. Kids, like the rest of us, are likelier to use tools that they like. Allowing them to choose between a manual and electric toothbrush or peppermint and spearmint toothpaste might be all the difference that’s needed.
Positive Reinforcement and Tracking Progress
Developing a reward system for children who don’t like to brush their teeth is a solid strategy. If kids are adamant that they don’t want to brush and floss, rewarding them with something that they’ll value can correct their behaviour.
Much like adults, kids also focus on results—it’s a large part of what makes games so appealing to them. If your child can’t track their progress, they will likely lose interest over time. Keep a calendar with days marked for when your child brushed their teeth in combination with a rewards system and your child will be well on their way to their Doctorate of Dental Surgery.
Start Them Early
It’s never too early to get your little caveperson into the habit of taking care of their teeth. Even before their baby teeth appear, parents can clean their baby’s gums and get them accustomed to the feeling. Making dental care a habit from the very beginning means that you won’t have to instill the habit later on. And as your child grows and develops, they can take on more and more of their dental care responsibilities—unless, of course, you’d like to be flossing a 30-year old’s mouth.
Call in the Cavalry
We promise that at least one of these techniques will have your kids brushing and flossing every day, twice a day like a dental care hero. Even so, everyone needs a regular check-up to ensure that their mouth is as clean as it needs to be. Schedule your child’s next appointment with Treehouse Dental Care today and let us know what teeth brushing games you’ve been playing!