Kids don’t usually enjoy taking care of their teeth, and this routine can turn into an argument. With a little effort, however, teaching your kids how to brush their teeth can be a fun, family activity!
Basic Oral Hygiene Tips
The habit of thoroughly brushing teeth needs to start as early as possible. Even if your children are babies, begin wiping their gums down with a soft cloth after feeding and transition to a small toothbrush once teeth break through. Then as your children grow older, this habit will be firmly established.
Your approach to brushing teeth will be different with younger kids than with your older children. Younger children are interested in games, songs, and play. Try one or more of these strategies:
- Take Turns – It’s important to stay present while children are learning to brush their teeth. They may not know that they should brush all surfaces of their teeth, and those hard-to-reach places can be tough. Have your child brush thoroughly first, then tell him/her that it’s your turn to help!
- Songs to Brush By – Singing the ABC’s while brushing can be fun, but these songs offer kids an opportunity to learn as well!
Working Hard to Keep Teeth Clean
(to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”)
Here’s my toothpaste
Here’s my brush
I won’t hurry, I won’t rush.
Working hard to keep teeth clean
Front and back and in between
When I brush for quite a while
I will have a happy smile.
The Toothbrush Song
(to the tune of “Row,Row, Row Your Boat”)
Brush, brush, brush your teeth
Brush them everyday.
We put toothpaste on our brush
To help stop tooth decay.
Floss, floss, floss your teeth.
Floss them every day!
Using the string to clean between
Keeps the plaque away!
Clean, clean, clean your teeth.
Clean them every day!
Your teeth will sparkle for years to come
In the most beautiful way!
Brush, brush, brush your teeth.
Brush them every day!
Happy, healthy teeth you’ll have
If it’s done this way.
- Incorporate Play – To help small children especially, find a doll and have your child “brush” the doll’s teeth. Have your child talk about what he/she is doing, and review the basics about how to brush properly.
Unlike younger kids, older children are interested in information and independence. These strategies can help convince your older kids that brushing, while not “fun” in the traditional sense, is vital to good health.
- Explain the Process – Kids need to know that there are long-term consequences if they don’t take care of their teeth. My boys – ages eight and five – love to hear about how when they eat, bacteria attack their teeth by building plaque that turns to acid. It’s the acid that eats away at their teeth, rotting them and making them fall out. My kids imagine that they’re ninjas, fighting the evil plaque monster.
- Choose Their Tools – It’s fun to have kid-friendly oral hygiene products for your child to choose from. Let them pick out toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss at the store. Consider providing cups for rinsing, a variety of toothpaste flavors, and different colors of floss.
- Get Help From the Dentist – Children, like adults, need to visit the dentist regularly. During these visits, the dentist and dental hygienist review with my kids the best ways to brush and floss their teeth. Sometimes hearing information from other authoritative sources makes more of an impact on children – I know it works with mine!
Regardless of age, it’s important to make sure that your children practice flossing in between teeth. As your kids grow and develop, schedule visits to the dentist twice a year for regular cleanings and checkups.