Is tooth brushing a chore in your house?
Tips for encouraging children to Brush their teeth
- Get a 2 minute egg timer (UK Link/US Link) – a timer is a great visual aid, so your kids know how long to brush for!
- Let kids pick their own toothbrush – they will get really excited when it comes to brushing their teeth with the toothbrush they have picked! We are BIG fans of Philips Sonicare toothbrushes for the kids. (UK Link/US Link)
- Get your kids a (robust) mirror – they can make silly faces in it and watch themselves brushing
- Play their favourite song while they brush to the beat – as most songs last two – three minutes it’s the perfect length
- Brush your teeth at the same time – kids love to copy mum and dad!
- Get an older family member to surprise your kids with their false teeth and a story about how theirs fell out – always a good incentive to get kids brushing!
- If you have more than one child, turn brush time into a competition – the one who brushes the best gets to pick the bedtime story! Don’t forget to alternate the ‘winner’ though!
- Tell your kids that the Tooth Fairy pays out less for decayed teeth – this will get them brushing better!
- If you have an older child, get them to teach their younger sibling how to brush – this makes it fun and also reinforces good brushing tips for the elder one.
- Let your child brush their favourite toy’s teeth – they will soon pick up how to do their own!
- Sing “Brush, brush, brush your teeth, gently to and fro, up, down, side to side, teeth so clean they glow” to the tune of “Row row row your boat” – it’s a great brushing rhythm!
- Give your kids a gentle scare by showing them pictures of people with bad teeth – or even your own – so that they know why they need to brush!
- Make three animal faces for brushing: tiger teeth (together), hippo mouth (mouth open) and snake tongue (to brush tongue). It makes it more fun and gets their teeth in the right position.
- With older kids, establish the link between bad brushing and bad breath – they will soon cotton on to this!
- Get your kids to brush with disclosing tablets (UK Link/US Link) once a week – they will love the surprising effect and it can become a challenge to see who can get their teeth white the quickest!
- Play ‘dentist’ with your kids – put them in a chair, inspect their teeth while they brush and provide a running commentary while they are doing so!
- Reward charts with stickers work very well – once they have reached a certain number they can get a treat which is a great incentive!
- Let your child ‘brush’ your teeth too – they are more likely to let you brush theirs if you can take it in turns!
- Give your kids 1p in a piggy bank every time they brush properly – 2p per day adds up to £7.30 a year!
- Let your kids be independent! You will need to brush their teeth at the end but letting them do it first makes them feel very grown up and it’s good practice!
I have been know to fall in to the “because I say so” trap on many occasions, but am learning as the boys get older that they learn so much better and more when I set them an example. I need to get passed the “do as I say, not as I do” mentality and start setting a good example.
One of the ways that I actually do this is by ensuring I brush my teeth at the same time as the boys. There are huge benefits from me doing it as the same time:
- I ensure that they brush it for the full 2 minutes
- They see me taking care of my teeth
- I can make sure they spit not swallow
- I can see if their gums bleed
My teeth and gums are hugely important to me as I am aware of how they can deteriorate due to the medications that I take, which is why I try to take good care of them.
I have blogged before about the fact that Mini’s teeth are showing their first signs of decay and how we are now on the Dentist’s quarterly visit list. I have been making a concerted effort to improve the boys brushing and both the boys use a sonic toothbrush, just like both MadDad and I do.
One of the things that has made the biggest difference for all of us is introducing disclosing tablets on a Sunday evening. These are small purple tablets that we chew and they dye the plaque on our teeth a purple colour, which gives a visible image to concentrate on. You can even get ones that show both new and old areas of plaque. The light areas show new and the dark areas olds. They cost around £2.30 for a pack of 20, which I think are great value and well worth adding to any cleaning routine.