My children are all grown now. But I remember what a challenge it was to get them ready for bed each night and how the tooth brushing routine was often the biggest roadblock. We tried bubble gum kids toothpaste, Disney toothpaste and toothbrushes, battery operated toothbrushes, I think there was even a cake batter flavored toothpaste somewhere in there. Keeping their toothbrushes clean and organized and their kids toothpaste tubes clean and separate was also a challenge. Building great oral hygiene habits into our kids daily routines is important for their teeth as well as overall hygiene and lifelong health. So how can we help them build good dental habits for life?
MAKE IT FUN!
Especially when our kids are very young it’s important to make tooth brushing time fun. This tip is first on the list because many of the other tips will be ideas to make or keep this vital habit fun for our kids. Besides, if we succeed in this first and basic task we will very likely instill good oral hygiene habits into our kids as they grow. So don’t make brushing their teeth a chore. Go ahead and use the crazy toothpaste flavors, the automatic toothbrushes, the timers, the glow in the dark stuff, whatever it takes to make tooth brushing time fun for your kids.
Be a good example for them
Let them know that you like to brush your teeth. Brush and floss your teeth with them and show them how you do it with exaggerated motions and instructions. And show them how you enjoy it. Even if you have to floss and brush again later it will help reinforce that it is something mommy and daddy do and like to do. After you are done flossing and brushing, show off your pearly whites in the mirror to each other and complement your kids on a job well done!
Let your kids practice on you
As parents you are undoubtedly going to brush your kids teeth when they are very young and on occasion when they are way tired. To help them accept this and help them feel comfortable with it, let them brush your teeth on occasion when you are teaching them. Then you can tell them what they are doing right or if it hurts a little and make brushing more fun for them. If the idea of someone else brushing your teeth is less than ideal, you can have them practice on a stuffed animal or a doll.
Be willing to give your kids some “buy in” with tooth brushing
As your kids get more practiced at brushing, give them more autonomy in the brushing process. This may get a little messy, but they will appreciate the trust and will learn from their mistakes and messes. When they show interest, let them make some choices about toothpaste brand, flavor or type and toothbrush style and color. Help them discover the type of floss that works best for them and give them a chance to try out their options.
Dance to the Music
One thing that can make brushing more fun is playing a song while brushing. Kids can move their bodies in lots of ways all at once. So take advantage of that and play a fun song each night while everyone brushes. Dance a little if you feel like it, but be sure that they are also brushing all areas evenly and thoroughly. If you find a 2-3 minute song it can also serve as a timer for starting and stopping and will ensure that the kids get in at least two minutes of vigorous yet gentle brushing.
Reward your kids for their good habits
Create a calendar and fill in all the good days of toothbrushing with a sticker. Every time kids get 30 stickers in a month they get a predetermined reward or a choice of predetermined rewards. Habits are created over time and will stick with your kids once they are firmly entrenched in their daily routines.
Make the bathroom a fun place
Put up pictures of their favorite cartoon characters on the mirror, paint it a fun color, put a color changing light in so you can have a different color each day of the week. There are lots of little ways to make the kids’ bathroom fun for them.
Try Poppits toothpaste pods!
If the idea of capless and leaking kids toothpaste tubes messing up your bathroom sink haunts your days and nights then you will be happy to know there is a great new solution. Poppits toothpaste pods are premeasured pods of gel toothpaste inside a water soluble film bubble that contains a dentist-recommended amount of toothpaste. The pods are a fun way to brush with awesome Bubble Fruit flavor toothpaste inside. Future flavors include Sunshine Strawberry and Green Apple. Simply have them pop a Poppit in their mouth, bite down on the pod to release the gel toothpaste. The soluble bubble film dissolves in their mouth as they brush. The toothpaste foams up as it cleans, polishes, strengthens enamel and protects their teeth. Spit and rinse for a clean healthy mouth. No leaky kids toothpaste tube messes, just great tasting tooth brushing fun!