Helpful Pediatric Dentistry Tips!

4 Parenting Tips to Help Your Child Brush Their Teeth

by Dr. Steve Whittemore, D.D.S. | Published February 16, 2021

Establishing good oral hygiene habits at a young age can help children stick with them into adulthood. However, if you’re a parent who has struggled to incentivize your child to take care of their teeth, you already know how difficult it can be to make teeth brushing a part of their daily routine. Fortunately, there are quite a few simple ways to make teeth brushing more fun and help your kids form healthy lifelong habits. 

Why It’s Important For Your Child to Brush Their Teeth

When it comes to brushing, it’s crucial for your child to develop good oral hygiene from a young age in order to protect the development of their permanent teeth. While baby teeth may seem unimportant since they will eventually fall out, these teeth act as placeholders for the adult teeth which grow underneath. If the gums and site of root development in a child’s mouth aren’t cared for, they could harm the growth and overall health of adult teeth. By encouraging your kids to brush their teeth regularly and by following these simple guidelines, you can help protect their oral health and set them up for success.

  1. Start a Teeth Brushing Routine With Your Child and Stick to it

The first step in establishing a new habit is to set a consistent routine that makes it easy for kids to follow. It can be tempting to allow your child to skip brushing their teeth after a long day or when you’re out of your normal routine, but the more you can make teeth care part of your child’s daily life, the more likely it is to stick with them long-term. Most dentists recommend having your child gently brush their teeth twice a day. It may be helpful to set a particular time each morning and evening that is specifically dedicated to brushing their teeth, or to incorporate teeth brushing into your child’s morning and bedtime routine. By doing so, kids know when to expect to brush their teeth and over time can more easily form a habit. 

  1. Let Your Child Pick Out Their Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Help your kids get involved in their tooth care by letting them pick out their own toothbrushes and toothpaste. Most stores carry a wide variety of children’s toothbrushes with different colors and fictional characters on them to encourage kids to brush their teeth. You can even find some with timers or lights that will help children know how long they should brush their teeth. By having the freedom to pick out their own toothbrush, your child can more easily engage in taking care of their teeth and it will make brushing a lot more fun for them. 

When it comes to toothpaste, many brands offer “training toothpaste” with fun flavors that will help them look forward to brushing their teeth each day. Always encourage your child to only use a pea sized amount and to spit any excess toothpaste out after brushing as this will develop good habits when they switch to fluoride toothpaste later on. 

  1. Set an Example By Brushing Your Teeth With Your Child

Kids learn a lot by watching the adults around them and copying their behaviors. You can help encourage your child to adopt healthy brushing habits by taking care of your own teeth. If you make it a part of your daily routine, chances are your child will want to brush their teeth, too. This can also make brushing seem less like a chore or a punishment if it’s an activity you and your child do together. You can ensure your child is brushing their teeth properly and spending enough time on their teeth during this time, too. By doing this activity together, it’s easier to keep an eye on their brushing habits and help them do so correctly. 

  1. Reward Your Child for Good Teeth Brushing Habits

There are a wide variety of ways to make teeth brushing a fun activity for your child rather than a chore. Easily motivate your kids to take care of their teeth by praising them for brushing their teeth or creating incentives for them, such as making a sticker chart for them to track when they’ve brushed each day. Small rewards at the end of the week for consistent brushing can motivate them to keep their teeth clean. 

You can also find a multitude of child-friendly resources to help your child love brushing, from apps you can download on your phone to books and videos about the topic. Find a children’s book about their favorite cartoon character that encourages kids to brush their teeth, or download an app that engages your child and guides them through proper technique as they brush. 

Teaching your child to brush their teeth doesn’t have to be a tedious process. By making dental care a positive part of their daily routine, you can help your kids protect their teeth and develop lifelong habits. For additional tips and advice on optimizing your child’s oral health, contact the Pediatric Dentistry of Central Iowa team to make an appointment. We are happy to walk through health dental habits that are specific to your child’s needs!