Hey there no-cavity club warriors! Your Kids Smiles Team knows that parents and kiddos alike work-hard together to keep their teeth bright and white and free of plaque. But sometimes you can meet some resistance on getting those pearly whites clean, in the form of crying, yelling, or just outright refusal. But don’t worry, our pediatric dentists in Tampa are here with the tips and tricks to help make your child’s oral hygiene routine a fun time for all.
1. Toddler-Friendly Techniques
First let’s talk toddlers! From 1 year olds to 3 years old, your toddler will start to show defiant behavior and want to do things themselves, it’s all part of healthy development. But that can mean that brushing and flossing time becomes a little different, maybe your toddler refuses to brush their teeth or they prefer to do it independently and get frustrated when you try to help.
One great strategy to try with your toddler is to encourage their independence through play. For example, make their toothbrushing a safari adventure! Get a colorful toothbrush, explain you’re going on a safari so they can find an animal and brush their teeth. Encourage them to find their favorite stuffed animal and bring it back to the safari clinic so they can brush the germs/sugar bugs off their teeth and help them stay safe in the wild. Have them “brush” their stuffy’s teeth first as this creates a fun and positive experience before having them brush their own teeth. Be sure you’re standing with them and offer assistance with their technique as the “animal” hygienist (and with your own child’s brushing).
2. Make toothbrushing into a story
If your 7 year old refuses to brush teeth, make their oral hygiene routine like an interactive story! This is a great strategy to help foster their imagination and inquisitive mind. Here’s a fun story that parents like you can try out for your kiddo:
“Mr. Toothbrush” and “Miss Floss” are the superheroes of oral hygiene who need assistance from your child (have them make up a superhero name for themselves). Their mission is to clean up “Sugar Bug Castle” and save the “Kingdom (or Queendom) of Smiles”! You can use silly phrases to describe how a toothbrush cleans their teeth. Announcements such as “Fear not, Miss Floss! With my mighty scrubbing powers, I’ll scrub away the stickiness from the castle walls!” and for Miss Floss you could use “And with my minty threads, I’ll floss away the Sugar Bugs from every nook and cranny”!
Let your child interject and encourage their replies as you paint them to be the heroes of this story as they wield their toothbrush and floss to save the day.
3. Play some music
Music is a great way to make brushing and flossing fun! Studies have been done that show music boosts your concentration and helps reduce anxiety. You can have your child pick out a 2 minute song or create their own “toothbrushing” playlist or just simply play their favorite song! Be sure to encourage them to brush for a full 2 minutes and floss to the beat. Need help finding good toothbrushing songs for kids, check out this list here!
4. Use a sticker or reward chart
Sticker charts are fantastic when you’re having trouble getting your child to brush and floss regularly. They can be a great visual to show your child’s progress and help with motivation but sometimes their effectiveness can only last a few weeks. So try doing sticker charts during Dental Health Month or during a difficult time. Be sure to use non-tangible rewards such as “a choice of activity” or 30 extra minutes of screentime as opposed to treats or candy.
5. Choose the right pediatric dentist for your child
Having a dental home for your family is incredibly important to good oral health! While parents are the superstars at home helping their child maintain their dental health, your child’s pediatric dentist is part of your team. It’s important to find the right pediatric dentist in Tampa Bay for your family, one who has the specialized training and a fun, comfortable environment for your child. Need help finding the best pediatric dentist for your family? Check out these 6 tips for choosing the right pediatric dentist.
6. Keep regular dental appointments
Making sure you and your child attend their dental appointments every 6 months goes a long way and making brushing and flossing fun! Staying on top of their dental check-ups gives your child the best opportunity to keep the entire dental experience a positive and fun one. If your family tends to keep irregular appointments this reduces the chance of your pediatric dentist detecting dental issues before they develop or worsen, leading to possible discomfort or pain for your child in the form of impacted teeth or cavities. Plus these appointments are the best time to ask the Kids Smiles Team for dental health tips or advice as your child teeth and personality grow.
7. Brush your teeth with them
Monkey see, monkey do! Young children love to copy their parents and loved ones – sometimes even kids their age. Just simply brushing your teeth beside them can get them excited about doing what mommy or daddy does. Narrate what you’re going to do – brush top and bottom, behind your teeth, side to side, in circles (or just be silly and say you’re brushing your teeth in their favorite shape). If you have more than one child, make it into a family competition – who can brush the best or make the coolest toothpaste bubble mustache.
8. Choose kid-friendly tools
Depending on your child’s age, have them pick out their toothbrush at the store, give them a choice between 2 toothpastes, and choose their favorite flossers. With toddlers, parents are encouraged to choose their child’s favorite color or character toothbrush and an ADA-approved flosser. This sense of ownership and personalization can make your child more enthusiastic about brushing and flossing their teeth.
Still have questions about fun ways to teach brushing teeth?
Give these tips and tricks a try with your child! The important thing to remember when encouraging proper brushing and flossing for kids is to create positive, playful experiences and reinforce good habits with praise or non-tangible rewards. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions about your child’s dental health care.
Looking for an expert pediatric dentist in Tampa Bay? Request your child’s appointment with us today.