Breaking news: kids love games. What they don’t love so much is doing anything that might reasonably be classified as a chore. Activities such as taking out the garbage, cleaning their room, mowing the lawn, or even just taking a shower fall far down the list of priorities for most kids behind such pastimes as running around like a crazed person.
While we certainly want to encourage our kids to play, it’s only fun and games until someone gets a cavity. But maintaining good dental hygiene doesn’t have to be a chore.
Savvy parents can use games to get kids to brush their teeth—the tiny tots will be having so much fun that they won’t even notice how white their smiles are getting. If you’re having difficulty encouraging your child to take care of their oral health, try these games to make brushing more fun. They won’t even notice that it isn’t play time.
1. Diaper Dentist
If you’re having a difficult time getting your child to brush their teeth, try playing a rousing round of “Diaper Dentist”—we promise, no diapers are actually involved. Diaper Dentist is a roleplaying game whereby your child—maybe even still in diapers—gets to play the role of the dentist.
You can start by pretending that you have little to no idea how to properly brush your own teeth. You can pretend to use the wrong end of the toothbrush, pretend to forget to use toothpaste or even do silly things like try to brush your ears. As the “dentist”, your child will have to educate you on how to use your toothbrush like a pro by demonstrating on themselves.
Diaper Dentist is a fun way to educate your child on good brushing habits and instill a sense of responsibility and ownership over their oral and dental health. It can be even more fun if your child has some props to work with so they can really get into character.
2. Sugar Bug Hunt
Tooth decay and cavities, particularly in children, are often times the result of sugar bugs. Cavity-causing bacteria love sugar more than they love just about anything else. Making a game out of hunting down the sugar bugs can turn any child into a dental care professional overnight.
Parents of children who need a little extra encouragement can try adding a narrative or storytelling element to the Sugar Bug Hunt. Removing food particles and plaque with floss can serve as something of an “opening chapter” and foaming toothpaste can be the “exciting climax” with a thorough mouth rinse being the “happily ever after”.
Also, naming your child’s floss and toothbrush can add some vivid colour to their already active imaginations as they dream up the scenario in their minds.
3. Pearly Whites, the Musical
If kids can turn the wheels of a bus into a song, then they can turn anything into a song. It’s little wonder that musicals are so popular with younger audiences. There are tons of fun ways to incorporate singing a song into brushing teeth so you’ll want to try out a few and see which ones work best for your child.
For some kids, simply playing their favourite song is encouragement enough to get them excited about oral care. Most songs last between 2 and 3 minutes which is the ideal amount of time for brushing. Kids can sign—albeit, with a toothbrush in their mouth—and tap their feet to a brighter smile.
Other kids enjoy making up their own song. Coming up with their own little “Tooth Brush Jingle” can make this part of their daily routine more comfortable and enjoyable. Help your child come up with some educational lyrics and they’ll be halfway to their dental degree before you’ve even spent a dime in tuition.
If you’re going to add a dance to the song so that your child has a whole song and dance routine, make sure that it doesn’t involve too many movements. Quick movements while brushing can result in oral and dental injuries.
4. Flossing with Friends
If your child has a favourite stuffed animal or doll, Flossing with Friends can be the game that gets them to the sink. Parents can pretend that their child’s favourite inanimate friend has told them that they want to brush their teeth and use that as an invitation to get the oral care party going.
Not all children, however, will take kindly to their stuffed animal friends gossiping with their parents directly. In those instances, parents can ask their child to demonstrate good brushing habits on their dolls and stuffed animals.
Once your child sees how brightly their friends are smiling, they’ll be excited to get some pearly whites of their own.
As pediatric dentists, we spend approximately 50% of our time researching the latest trends in teeth brushing games. Not actually, but we do know more than a few tips and tricks to get kids excited about their oral health and hygiene.
Take a tour of our locations in Etobicoke, Thornhill, and Toronto or book your child’s next appointment with us today.