Six Things Parents Can Do to Encourage Kids to Brush & Floss by Aaron Smith
Six Things Parents Can Do to Encourage Kids to Brush & Floss
Teaching your children how to be healthy is an important responsibility as a parent. How you teach your kids will determine how they will take care of themselves for their whole life. When it comes to dental health, it all starts with simple habits like brushing and flossing. You might even be able to make tooth brushing fun for your kids.
The Importance of Teaching for Healthy Teeth
- According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 out of 5 children from ages 5 to 11 has at least one untreated cavity. Adolescents report a 13% cavity rate.
- The World Health Organization recently stated that untreated cavities are the most common health condition in the world.
- Additionally, the Mayo Clinic reports that good oral health is a window into a person’s overall health and wellbeing.
By teaching your children to take good care of their teeth and gums, you’re not just helping them maintain a bright smile, you’re also giving them a better chance for a healthy body! If you’re searching for ways to help encourage your child to brush and floss, consider these six ways to help them on their journey to excellent oral health.
1. Start Them When They’re Young
One of the best ways to instill an appreciation in a child for brushing and flossing is to begin at a young age. Start your toddler off with the best oral care possible by brushing their baby teeth twice a day. As time goes on, allow them to do the work as you supervise.
Keep the mood light and fun. Make tooth brushing time an enjoyable time between you and your toddler. As they grow, they’ll have a positive connection with toothbrushing. This will make the whole process a fun part of their day.
2. Use Technology to Your Advantage
Remember: a child should be brushing for two minutes each time they brush. For many children, however, two minutes seems like an eternity when they’re vigorously brushing their teeth. How can you help them pass the time? Use technology!
You can do this in a number of different ways. Set a two-minute “tooth timer” on a phone or smart device, allowing them to see their progress. Or create a playlist of some of their favorite tunes, all of which last around two minutes of time. You could also find two-minute videos on YouTube. Whatever you choose, make sure they keep proper brushing form while their attention is drawn to your smartphone or tablet.
3. Create an Incentive Chart
As an adult, we know that superior oral care habits lead to a healthy smile and good overall health. These long-term benefits can be a bit harder for children to understand and appreciate. Instead, give them a short-term incentive for brushing to encourage them to build the habit.
Consider posting a chart in your bathroom where your child can watch their progress. As they mark down each time they brush, have incentives ready for when they reach certain benchmarks. Over time, your child will need fewer incentives to maintain their twice-daily habit. You can even accessorize your chart with fun stickers.
4. Let Them Personalize Their Experience
One of the ways to get a child invested in taking care of their teeth is by allowing them to make decisions about what they use to clean them. Take your child to the local store and allow them to choose:
- Their own toothbrush: Although any soft-bristled brush with a proper handle will do nicely, allow them to choose from the wide variety of colors, characters, and designs available.
- Their own toothpaste: What flavor will your child like best? Choosing a flavor that’s pleasing to them is very important when you’re attempting to encourage good oral hygiene. If they don’t like the taste, they may not want to brush.
- Their floss: For many children, pre-strung floss picks are more “user-friendly” and are a popular choice. Many adults prefer them too!
5. Give Them a Good Example to Follow
One of the most effective ways you can convey to your child the importance of a daily brushing and flossing routine is through leading by example. Your child should see you brushing and flossing every day. In fact, you may find it helpful to share toothbrushing time together for a time, so your child can observe and emulate your routine.
6. Maintain Regular Appointments at the Pediatric Dentist
One of the most essential keys to good oral hygiene is visiting the pediatric dentist every six months. Not only will the dentist give your child a thorough cleaning and examination, but they will also reiterate the lessons you’ve been teaching your child about brushing and flossing. Remember: a child’s visit to the dentist is as much about education as it is cleaning!
Of all the lessons that you pass on to your child, there are fewer that will be longer-lasting than encouraging them to brush and floss. By giving them the help they need in their formative years, you’re passing along the keys to good oral health and wellness for their whole life.