Most kids neglect to brush their teeth because they do not find any joy in the act. As a parent, it is your responsibility to get your child to develop good oral hygiene habits to combat oral health complications in the future. Here are 5 strategies you can put to action to help your child form a better relationship with tooth brushing.
Regular oral care is vital for your child to stay healthy as tooth brushing is essential in removing the bacteria and plaque that is responsible for tooth decay, gum disease and other oral complications. However, most children struggle to commit to a dental hygiene routine; they may unwillingly do it after throwing bouts of tantrums. For parents, this can be a tiring process fueled by frustration.
However, with the right strategies, parents can help their child commit to long-term dental habits that will keep their smile bright for many years to come!
Here are 5 ways you can help your child commit to brushing
1) Make a game out of it
Children will naturally commit to things that they find pleasure in. Use your creativity to turn a seemingly mundane task into a fun activity! If you are not sure how to do this, here is a pro tip: kids are drawn to actions that come with a reward.
You can make a game out of this. For example, if your child is able to commit to brushing their teeth every day, grant them the privilege to choose what they want for dessert on the family’s next visit to a restaurant.
2) Select fun toothbrushes
Try to purchase a toothbrush that comes in their favourite colour or fun designs to readjust their perception of the product. In this present moment, they may view it as a piece of equipment that sparks no joy in their lives, but if you can find a toothbrush that is visually pleasing, it could serve to encourage them to pick up the toothbrush more often!
Allow your child to select their toothbrush on your next shopping trip, this will also instil a sense of ownership in them and hopefully, this will encourage them to put their toothbrush to use!
3) Select age-appropriate toothpaste for them
Toothpaste developers have the responsibility to create flavours that will be appealing for children as their job is to encourage, rather than hinder the development of good oral habits in children. Our doctors have also advised that toothpaste for children must contain lower concentrations of fluoride due to the fact that children have a tendency to swallow their toothpaste. As such, it is crucial for parents to purchase age-appropriate toothpaste for their little ones.
4) Commit to the process with them
Coordinate your routine with your child’s schedule and brush together! Set an alarm for brushing so that every day when the clock starts ringing, you will both know what to do. This can turn into a period of bonding for both of you, which will motivate them to commit to tooth brushing.
Incorporating good dental hygiene habits begins with your own routine. If your child sees you brushing your teeth next to them, it will influence them to mirror you! After all, you are their greatest role model. You can also use this time to exemplify the correct techniques for tooth brushing. Show your child how to use brief, gentle strokes to clean their teeth. Dental professionals have advised the general public to brush at a 45-degree angle to cleanse the space between the teeth and the gums – where germs and bacteria take residence in. Do not forget to brush your tongue, too!
5) Do not associate tooth brushing with negative outcomes
To get your child to feel more empowered and motivated to practise oral care, they should associate brushing their teeth with positive outcomes. In other words, this means you should try your best to steer clear of perceived negative events before they start brushing their teeth.
For example, you should get them to brush their teeth before they take a bath so they can break the negative link between tooth brushing and bedtime. Alternatively, you can get them to brush their teeth before you tell them a bedtime story so their brains are wired to believe that a positive event is followed by tooth brushing.
This also means that if you ever find yourself upset at your child, try to avoid telling them to go brush their teeth in an angry tone. They may associate toothbrushing as a punishment rather than an essential daily habit.
Once you have put these 5 steps into action, remember to be patient and consistent. If your child initially shows little to no interest in your efforts in helping them, stay calm and keep trying. Tooth brushing is a habit that is meant to be deeply ingrained in a person’s mind at a young age but nobody said it was ever going to be easy. Trust the process and know that one day your child will thank you for their beautiful smile!
Speaking of beautiful smiles, if you or your child are due for a dental checkup, book an appointment with us!