Early childhood is the perfect time to help children build the lifelong habit of brushing their teeth. While some children enjoy the ritual of brushing their teeth in the morning and at night, others put up resistance. Here are some ideas to help children make tooth brushing an ingrained habit.
When forming any habit, it is important to build it into existing routines.
This is easily done for night time brushing, since it can be built into the routine of going to bed. Children thrive on routines, and will come to expect teeth brushing as an essential part of their night time rituals. Even before babies can speak, it is helpful to talk to them and explain what you are doing to get them ready for bed. For example, “First we put on pajamas, then we will brush teeth, and then it will be time for a bed time song.” By doing this, bedtime will be associated with brushing their teeth. Similarly, you can build tooth brushing into a morning routine, “First we get dressed for the day, then we brush teeth, then we comb our hair.”
The right tooth brushing supplies, can help make the process go smoothly.
For toddlers and young children, a toothbrush with a fun character on it, can help motivate them to brush. If your child is resistant to toothpaste, consider experimenting with a different flavor, some children find mint toothpaste too “spicy,” but will readily use a different type to brush. In order to make sure their kids are brushing their teeth long enough, some parents use a “sand timer.”
Many children enjoying singing songs about teeth brushing.
The Department of Health has a great selection of tooth brushing songs.. Other parents use this time to tell a silly story, or jokes. If you plan on having the tooth fairy come and visit when your child loses teeth, you can encourage your child to brush to keep their teeth pearly white for the tooth fairy.
Finally, it is very important for parents to model the behavior that they would like to see their children imitate.
Children learn by imitation. Don’t forget to help your children build the habit of going to the dentist too, so bring your kids to see us every six months! Click here to set up an appointment!