Most children don’t want to stop playing with their toys, siblings, and parents at night. Getting into a bedtime routine including dental care can be tough. Here are a few creative ways to encourage your child to have excellent dental hygiene. Please share these tips and your routine with any grandparents or caregivers. Each child is different so mix up your methods and try out new ways in your child’s brushing routines.
Start Early, Educate, and Give Examples
You can start before your child’s teeth arrive with a warm and damp cloth to wipe their gums. Brush when their teeth come in and floss when their teeth start touching.
Give your child clear and easy-to-understand reasons why they need to brush their teeth and floss. Tell them how brushing keeps away cavities that can hurt, and that if they keep their teeth clean it will make their smiles even more beautiful.
You can give your child various examples of brushing. Show them how your brush your teeth. Let them get close and make sure there is plenty of light for them to see what is going on. Make the demonstration short and fun, however, let them know the proper amount of time to spend on each area of their teeth, 30 seconds for each quadrant; 2 minutes total. Then brush together at the same time.
You can also read a book or show them a video of how to brush your teeth. Let them practice with an extra toothbrush on their stuffies or dolls.
Songs, Apps, and the Right Tools
Listen to your child’s favorite songs that are at least 2 minutes long while they brush their teeth. There are animated songs on YouTube from Super Simple Songs or CoComelon. There are also apps for your phones and tablets that include animations and songs from Disney, Philips Sonicare, Pokémon, and more.
Let your child pick out their favorite brush and toothpaste flavor. Small children can use a powered toothbrush if they haven’t developed manual dexterity yet.
Rewards and Praise
Give your child rewards and praise for a job well done. Give immediate rewards such as reading an extra book at bedtime or staying up a few minutes later. Or give a compounding reward such as collecting points or stickers on a toothbrushing chart or pebbles in a mason jar to save up for a prize from a prize bucket. You can reward them on your own or set a timer for them to brush till. You can also have a weekly bonus.
After brushing their teeth, tell them how beautiful their smile is. You can take a picture on your phone or a selfie together to show them how well they did.
Here is a printable brushing chart. Remember to give your child a special surprise such as a sticker, small toy, or snack at the end of each completed week.