Top 10 Tips To Get Kids To Brush Their Teeth
Does brushing time illicit tears and tantrums? The agony sometimes associated with
oral hygiene can cause parents to toss up their hands in defeat.
They are not alone. In an Ad Council survey released on August 14, 2012, one-third
of respondents said they argued with their children at least once a week about brushing
their teeth. Additionally, 60 percent of parents with children ages 12 or younger
report that they do not regularly help their children brush their teeth or check
to make sure they’ve done a good job.
We know getting kids to brush isn’t always easy. Here are 10 tips to help encourage your children to pick up a toothbrush and dental floss:
- Use a fun brush
Let your child pick out his or her toothbrush. Sometimes having a fun shape, cartoon-character
theme, or electric toothbrush is enough to get kids excited about brushing. If such
versions aren’t in your budget, let your child select one in his or her favorite
- Offer incentives
Make a chart and keep track of how often your child brushes and flosses. Allow him
or her draw a checkmark with a colorful marker or place a sticker on it after performing
each. Perhaps the activity is the reward. You might also consider setting a goal
and providing a fun toothbrush or non-food treat as a reward for reaching it.
- Employ the Internet
There are numerous online oral health campaigns aimed at getting kids to brush.
This summer’s music video sensation “Teach Me How to Brushy” and 2min2x.org, a new website from the Ad Council and The
Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives, both offer fun entertainment just
perfect for the amount of time it takes to brush. Just remember to follow it up
Instead of simply telling your kids they need to brush and floss, remind them why
it’s important. Explain how teeth grow and what happens when we don’t care for them.
Visit sites like healthyteeth.org
and the American Dental Association’s MouthHealthy.org for child-focused educational videos and
- Get the dentist involved
When you take your child in for his or her next exam and cleaning, be sure to let
the dentist and hygienist know about your brush-time battles. He or she will demonstrate
proper technique and provide reminders about why brushing and flossing are important.
- Lend a helping hand
Teach kids how to brush properly by brushing their teeth for them and then allowing
them to take over.
- There’s an app for that
Smartphone apps with brushing timers abound. Most of them are free and geared toward
children. They include demonstrative videos, bright colors, and fun music to help
make oral hygiene a little more fun. Check out Time2Brush for a good free app. Brush with Jackson is another popular app and only costs
- Make it tasty
Most popular toothpaste manufacturers, including
Tom’s of Maine and
Crest, make toothpaste formulated to kids’ tastes.
Have your child practice on a favorite doll or stuffed animal with an old toothbrush.
Supervise and instruct. This will help him or her get a feel for the time and technique
involved. Plus, the element of let’s pretend can add fun to the activity. Follow
by having your child brush his or her own teeth.
- Join in
Lead by example. You have to brush your teeth anyway, so why not do it at the same
time? Have your child follow your lead, switching to different parts of his or her
mouth when you do. Holding a little family brushing session twice a day might be
a good way to form a habit.
Getting kids to brush is critical to their oral and overall health. Dental decay
is the most common chronic childhood disease. More than 16 million kids suffer from
untreated tooth decay in the United States. Poor oral health has been linked to
and low academic performance.
Just remember: The tears will last momentarily, but the smile will last a lifetime.