If you have a kid that has started to brush their own teeth, or have even babysat at bedtime, you know how difficult it can be to get kids to brush their teeth. National Tooth Fairy Day is celebrated on February 28th of each year, so we're here to give some tips that have worked for us to at least decrease the battle over brushing those pearly whites.
Let your child see you brush your teeth. While you brush your teeth, let them hold onto their own toothbrush encouraging them to “brush” their own teeth. They will see how you brush your teeth and will try to replicate it. Of course, the younger the child, the less actual brushing is going on and my own dentist told me that is the first step. Let them chew on the brush a little at first before moving on to actual brushing that you will do for them.
2) Choose a cool toothbrush
If your child likes Batman or Dora, find a character toothbrush! When you give them the toothbrush, make a really big deal about how cool the toothbrush is and that you bought it just for them. Some children also really like the battery powered toothbrushes and think the vibration is funny, so you might give that a shot too. Plus, even in those early stages of not a lot of actual manual brushing going on, the battery powered toothbrushes are doing some of the work.
3) Find a good toothpaste--or not
There are a lot of varieties of toothpaste out there for kids, so try out some different flavors, but whatever you use--only use a pea-sized amount or less. Crest even just came out with some mint chocolate flavor and it might be good for kids who don’t want to brush! Some kids simply don’t like the taste of any toothpaste. So for awhile, just forgo the toothpaste. Get the brushing part down and work up to the toothpaste eventually.
4) Tell a story or sing a song
Some parents have had success with telling their child a story about the monsters that live in their mouth, and the only way to get rid of them is to brush them out! Of course, not all children want to hear about monsters and this could scare them, but it could be worth a shot. Or, you could sing a song while you do it, like, “This is the way we brush our teeth, brush our teeth, brush our teeth” or any song that the child might like. Whatever you do, make brushing a fun habit for them to learn.
5) For the older child--show pictures
If you have an older child who already knows how to brush their teeth, but just “forgets” or doesn’t want to, then it might be time to resort to showing them pictures of what can happen when you don’t brush your teeth like they might in a health class. Find some pictures of fillings, pulled teeth, yellowed teeth--basically whatever just looks awful to you, and explain to the child that these issues are the result of not taking care of their teeth.
In the end, you just need to get the child in the habit of doing it, so make it part of the daily routine, and eventually, they will just get used to it like we all do.