Dental hygiene is an important component of a healthy lifestyle, but it’s an element youngsters rarely embrace with open arms. Parents know that getting kids, especially young children, to brush their teeth is not always so easy. In recognition of that, the American Dental Association suggests the following strategies to make brushing teeth something kids will look forward to.
• Make it fun. Brushing teeth may not be considered a fun activity, but who’s to say it can’t benefit from a little levity? The ADA recommends turning tooth brushing sessions into dance parties and/or sing-alongs. Youngsters might be so busy cutting a rug or listening to mom and dad belt out a few hits that they don’t even realize they’re cleaning their teeth at the same time. If singing and dancing aren’t cutting it, then incorporate another fun activity, like reading a child his or her favorite story, into daily brushing sessions. The ADA advises adults and children to brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day, so activities need not be too advanced. But a fun activity that allows kids to do something other than brush their teeth can be a great way to help them meet the “two minutes, two times” guideline.
• Reward good behavior. Parents can reward youngsters who brush their teeth without incident by offering praise or allowing them to pick a bedtime book when brushing at night.
• Put kids’ favorite characters to work. The ADA notes that many popular children’s television shows and books have stories about brushing teeth. Watch these stories with your children, then reference the stories and characters if kids are reluctant to brush their teeth. Parents also can find toothbrushes and/or toothpaste that feature kids’ favorite characters to get youngsters more excited to brush.
• Become a storyteller. Parents also can make up their own stories, explaining to kids how they can be superheroes who brush away the bad guys that cause cavities.
• Brush alongside your children. Kids love to mimic their parents, so moms and dads can brush alongside their youngsters in the hopes they’ll follow suit.