8 Fun Ways To Encourage Your Kids To Brush Their Teeth
Getting kids to brush their teeth can be one of the most challenging habits to build, and is rarely without some varying levels of frustration. For busy parents we know that getting your kids to brush their teeth is just one other thing you need to squeeze into an already full nightly schedule so we thought it important to arm you with some tools to make it easier. One question we asked on Brisbane Kids was when can you let your kids brush their own teeth and the general rule of thumb seems to be when they are able to tie their shoelaces. This is obviously just a guide but even if your child seems able to brush their teeth quite well, its always a good idea to just give them an extra “polish” yourself.
So what can you do to make brushing teeth easier with your kids?
1. Build good oral hygiene routines early
Even before those teeth start bursting through you can trial teething babies with a flannel on their gums to get them used to the idea of something being in their mouth. Many companies make training toothbrush sets that are bristle-free or have soft rubber bristles to massage the gums and get toddlers familiar with the sensation of their teeth being brushed. Moving onto an early toothbrush soon after and doing it for them until they can do it themselves can be a great way to encourage this habit before they are old enough to protest.
2. Educate toddlers about WHY teeth need be brushed
You may have missed the opportunity to start the habit early, or perhaps your children are still not happy to have a brush in their mouth. For many kids, educating them on the importance of teeth brushing can make a big difference. Explain it in terms they can understand, making it age appropriate. You may even want to ask the dentist to give them a demonstration at the next check-up. Fear is not ideal at this point, though often a quick look at grandmas false teeth won’t hurt (#kidding/notkidding). That said, the reality is, teeth are very important and it’s okay to reinforce that teeth need to be brushed to last a long time.
3. Role play teeth brushing with a doll or teddy bear
There are lots of toys and dolls available that have their own tooth brush, designed to encourage kids to do the same. If you aren’t in possession of one of these fancy teeth brushing toys then rest assured you can use any toy they already have and simply have a spare toothbrush on hand to ‘brush’ the toys teeth too. When kids see their beloved toy having their teeth brushed it will encourage them to do the same.
4. Lead by Example
Kids love to imitate others, so what better way to teach great habits than to show them yourself. Brush together twice a day, making a family routine so they can see you doing the right thing too. This is great for helping them get it right, showing them how to get those hard to reach places.
5. Let them choose their own toothbrush
Take them shopping and let them pick their own age appropriate toothbrush. Chances are it may have their favourite character on it, or maybe it makes music when they brush. Either way, if they get to choose their own toothbrush, they are far more likely to love using it. Special toothpaste may help too, such as a sparkly one or another equally fun kid designed toothpaste. You will often find that the sparkly licensed brand toothpastes also have a milder flavour than adult toothpaste. TIP: kids toothbrush ranges often come with an electric toothbrush version that is often fairly inexpensive and may help to achieve a thorough clean with less manual action.
6. Make teeth cleaning fun!
If it seems like a chore, kids will do anything to avoid it but making it fun may change that. Have your own game involved in teeth brushing, such as who can make the most bubbles/foam, or make up a teeth brushing dance to do together while you brush. Fun makes everything better so use your imagination, get creative and get those kids brushing with joy. Perhaps the toothbrush is a little ballerina doing twirls across their teeth.
9. Get some help with technology
Macleans have a great phone app called Nurdle Time, which is free to download. It allows you to enter the profile of up to 5 people. At teeth brushing time, you activate their profile and the animated song begins encouraging good tooth brushing habits. The song goes for 2 minutes, which is the ideal brushing time. Once you stop either at the end of the song or earlier, star points are given. These points can be used to download free outfit upgrades for the Nurdle character, so your kids can dress him up as they please.
10. Use a reward chart to encourage a teeth cleaning routine
Sometimes it helps to provide kids with a small incentive to achieve their goals. A rewards chart may be just what the dentist ordered. You can create a basic one yourself or download one online like this one and decide how you want to reward the behaviour. Small goals to start can usually help, building up as the routine becomes more established. You may decide a whole week of brushing morning and night gives your child access to a special reward, such as a trip to the park or some time to play with a toy that is only for really good behaviour.
Some further resources on getting kids to brush their teeth
- A guide via the Victorian Government on how to brush your teeth properly
- Here are some teeth cleaning songs and rhymes via the Queensland Health
- Even Sesame Street has provided a Teeth Cleaning Toolkit to help you out!