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Getting Kids Excited About Oral Hygiene

Written by James Kicinski-McCoy

Photography by Photograph via Bleubird

Dirty mouth? You betcha! Good oral hygiene is such an important part of our everyday lives, and whether you actually look forward to brushing daily or not, dental care is something that we as parents must teach our kids to take seriously and enjoy. These small, yet highly-important practices like taking care of our bodies can seem boring to kids, so it’s key to take the right approach and make sure they’re forming good habits that will carry them into adulthood. Below we’ve gathered some helpful tips for teaching your little ones the importance, benefits, and easiness of oral care and bright smiles. Happy brushing!

A Special Brush. Start things out right with a fun toothbrush. Brightly-colored or character-themed toothbrushes are more inviting than regular ol’ plain ones and really do get kids excited to brush. We love the Issa Mini because it’s gentle, but also electric, so it gets those tiny teeth squeaky clean. It may be a good idea to get your tot involved in the process by taking them to the store to pick out a toothbrush they’ll love.

Toothpaste, Mouthwash, and Floss. Just like above, kids are more prone to try something that’s more familiar and approachable. If mint toothpaste isn’t working for your tiny tooth brusher, try a sweet or fruity flavored one that tastes great. Not all kid’s toothpastes are the same, so make sure to select a paste with safe ingredients and anti-cavity protection. It’s also a good idea to incorporate a fun mouthwash and floss from the start!

Learn As A Family. One of the best ways to get your kids used to the routine of brushing and flossing is to do it together. We all know kids love to be just like mom and dad, and this way they learn how to properly clean and have fun doing so. If you have more than one child, this is a really great way to help each of them stay on track and work together when it’s time to brush.

Set Up A Timer. The American Dental Association recommends brushing teeth for a minimum of two full minutes, and while that seems normal for adults, kids would love to swipe once or twice and call it a day. Use a kid-friendly timer to help your child brush for longer or opt for a fun toothbrush with a built-in timer or a song, or light. This is a surefire way to know that they’re really brushing!

Spark Imagination. Some kids benefit more from examples and creativity. Try a children’s book like The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss, show your kid a fun how-to video, or make up your own story or song that teaches kids why it’s important and how fun it can be to practice healthy oral habits. For siblings, turn brushing into a fun game of “who can brush the longest” or “make the most bubbles” to encourage some extra fun.

Bring In The Evidence. If you’re still having trouble getting your child motivated to take care of their pearly whites, opt for a little show and tell. Most dental offices and even some pharmacies offer disclosing agents, which are completely safe and a good way for kids to see the harmful plaque that’s hiding on their teeth. Kids simply chew a tablet to expose the hidden debris, while helping prove the point of good dental care.

Proper Methods. Just as important as getting kids to brush is teaching them to do so properly. Have your kids think of brushing like the wheels of a train—slowly moving round and round in circles instead of scrubbing back and forth. Without proper technique, kids tend to brush too fast, too rough, and can actually end up hurting their gums and enamel altogether.

Offer Praise. Applause feels great, especially to kids working hard to make mom and dad proud. Make sure to always praise your child for specific steps like brushing, flossing, and remembering to do so on their own. You can also set up a reward system for incentive to practice good dental care, like using a sticker chart. Set goals and when reached let your child earn a little something special whether that be extra T.V. time or a trip to the playground.

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