Encouraging good brushing habits

Are you encouraging good brushing habits?

Developing good dental habits is one of the most important lessons kids need to learn early on in life. Why? Good dental hygiene can keep kids healthy throughout their childhood and beyond, but bad dental habits can affect a child’s health — and their wallets — long after they leave elementary school.

Unfortunately, most kids would rather do anything other than brush their teeth.

You can force your kids to take care of their teeth while they’re really young by brushing for them, but eventually they need to learn how to do it on their own. Encourage good habits in your kids by following a few of these tips.

Turn dental care into a game

The American Dental Association recommends that kids adopt the 2min2x mindset when it comes to brushing: Two minutes of brushing a day, twice a day.

Two minutes might not seem like a lot of time to us adults, but it can feel like a lifetime to little ones. Make time go faster by turning brushing into a competition to see which child can brush the longest. Other options: Invest in toothbrushes that play music for a two-minute brushing session, or download smartphone apps that play two-minute videos and games to keep kids brushing until time is up. The ADA offers some of these videos for free on their website.

Good dental hygiene can keep kids healthy throughout their childhood and beyond, but bad dental habits can affect a child’s health.

Play ‘spot the plaque’

It’s difficult for many kids to understand the concept of plaque and bacteria on their teeth because they can’t see it. So, make it visible by using plaque disclosing tablets made by leading dental health companies like Oral B.

To use the tablets, kids simply put them in their mouths and let them dissolve. The color sticks to the plaque on teeth, giving kids a better look at the trouble spots they need to brush.

Let them pick out their dental gear

Give your children some “skin in the game” by letting them pick out toothbrushes and toothpastes they like. Kids are more likely to brush regularly if they like their dental tools, so don’t balk if they pick out a toothbrush decorated with the characters from the Disney movie Moana or fruit punch-flavored toothpaste (as long as it contains fluoride!).

Make It a Family Affair

Your kids won’t care about dental health if you don’t care about yours, so make sure your kids see you brush, rinse and floss as much as possible. You can even turn it into a family activity: The whole family meets in the bathroom at a certain time — like bedtime — and brushes together.

We’ve even heard of families turning brushing time into a “party” with dancing and other silliness. Making brushing fun creates good memories and good habits!

Reward good behavior

Behavioral health experts are torn on whether external rewards for good behavior — like trinkets, toys and money – actually encourage kids to practice good habits. However, rewarding good brushing habits doesn’t have to involve giving gifts or spending money.

Instead, reward your children’s good brushing habits with heaps of praise, hugs and hi-fives — and then maybe reward them with a new toy or a meal their favorite restaurant if they keep up good habits for a few weeks or months.

Remember: Building good habits takes time

A study from researchers at Brown University found that children’s habits take root by age nine, so don’t waste any time getting your kiddos into a regular brushing routine.

But don’t fret if brushing tends to slip their minds on a regular basis. Creating good habits take time and repetition, so just keep reminding them to brush when they forget. Eventually they’ll remember on their own — and you’ll be one proud parent!

Contact us at TruFamily Dental to make an appointment today.

Posted In: Pediatric Dental Care