Children need to brush two minutes at a time, twice a day, for good oral health. It’s essential for children undergoing orthodontic treatment because braces can trap food and lead to faster tooth decay. If children enjoy brushing, they’ll keep up the routine. The question is, how do you make it enjoyable for your kids?
Freeman Orthodontics loves teaching children how to brush and floss properly because we love seeing those healthy smiles every time they visit! So here are a few helpful suggestions and resources to bring those lessons home.
Make Brushing Fun!
Let’s face it, telling your kids “go brush your teeth” is not a good motivator. Even if they do it, they may not do it properly.
We recommend supervising your child until they’re about 8 years old so you know they’re brushing and flossing correctly. Since you’ll have that time together, why not make it fun? They’ll learn excellent oral hygiene and learn to enjoy it!
Why not try one of these?
- The Toothy Derby: Try calling toothbrushing like a horse race. “It’s Squeaky Clean Incisors in front, but Brush the Canines are on the inside, with Don’t Forget the Molars in the rear!”
- Tooth Party USA!: Play their favorite music and dance while brushing and flossing. Make sure you have a song that lasts at least two minutes. Challenge them to brush until the music stops.
- Silly Faces: Make silly faces for two minutes while the child brushes. If they stop, the funny faces stop, so they have to keep going.
- Red Light, Green Light!: Use this old favorite during tooth brushing. “Green Light!” means they have to brush. “Red Light!” means they have to freeze!
- Chatty Brushy: Let the toothbrush do the talking while your child brushes. Use funny voices or accents. If the child stops, the talking stops, so keep it going for two minutes!
- Copycat: Your child has to mimic you so that you can teach them proper brushing techniques. Add a few dance moves or silly poses to make it more fun!
- Tooth Train: Make train sounds while your child brushes and “blow the horn” when it’s time to move from the front teeth to the back teeth or from the upper teeth to the lower teeth.
- Balance Game: Accept your child’s challenge! Stand on one foot while they brush the lower teeth and switch feet when they move to the upper teeth. Who will last longer?
Let’s Be Animals: Have your child pretend to be an animal (baby tiger, baby dragon) and tell them that you need to see their big teeth. Act amazed by their beautiful teeth and encourage them to brush by themselves or help them.
Make It Routine!
It’s easy enough to let a habit slide, especially during summer or vacation. The problem is children are creatures of habit. Breaking a habit can become a new habit. That makes keeping good oral health habits much more difficult.
Keep up the routine! Try charting their progress each week. Make a chart for each day of the week, with day and night slots. They earn a sticker or a gold star each time they brush. Maybe at the end of the week or month, they get a reward if they have a certain number of stars.
If you want to save paper, make the chart and “laminate” it with packing tape over the slots. Then, you can use dry-erase markers to track the child’s progress and erase it to prepare for the next week.
Keeping a chart not only lets you see how often your child is brushing but whether they are having problems doing so at certain times. For example, are they brushing more at night than in the morning? You can spot the issues and correct them more easily.
Make It Personal!
Adding a personal touch makes brushing even more fun for your child! There are lots of ways to do that. Here are a few suggestions:
- Glamorize the Brush: Why use a simple soft-bristled toothbrush when you can use one that spins, sings, or lights up? Or, you can find a toothbrush that features their favorite character. There are plenty of SpongeBob and Disney Princess options, or let Dora explore their mouths as they brush!
- Favorite Character Sing-Along! Several children’s favorites have their own songs about brushing teeth. Let them serenade your child while they brush. Elmo’s “Brushy Brushy,” Daniel Tiger’s “Teeth Brushing Song,” and Mickey Mouse’s “Brush to the Beat” are some excellent options. Just don’t be surprised if they get stuck in your head. (Sorry about that!)
- A Family Affair: Turn brushing time into family time! All of you, including your child’s siblings, can brush at the same time. The adults can set great examples for the children, which teaches them good oral hygiene habits they can carry with them for life!
- Gold Star Club: Kids do great with positive reinforcement, so reward your child for great brushing and flossing habits. Turn those gold stars or favorite character stickers into a special note from the Tooth Fairy, an extra half-hour in the pool, a little more time at the park, or some other great reward for your child.
Make It a Priority!
Why the urgency to plant the seed of good oral hygiene in small children? After all, their baby teeth will fall out sooner or later.
In truth, baby teeth are just as susceptible to cavities as permanent teeth. You may think it’s no big deal since baby teeth fall out, but it’s actually a huge deal.
Those cavities can cause pain just like with permanent teeth, and untreated cavities can cause infections. Tooth decay can spread to other teeth. Also, permanent teeth can come in crooked if the baby teeth fall out early.
For these reasons, good oral hygiene needs to begin as soon as the child’s teeth start erupting. Teaching proper brushing and flossing is essential so the child keeps up those habits through the eruption of the permanent teeth and for the rest of their lives.
Without their baby teeth, children may develop problems properly eating, drinking, and speaking. That’s why taking care of the baby teeth is just as important as taking care of the permanent ones!
Make A Visit!
Your child needs to brush and floss daily, but they also need to see their dentist and orthodontist regularly!
The American Orthodontics Association recommends children visit an orthodontist by age 7. In addition, The American Dental Association recommends children visit the dentist every six months after teeth begin to erupt for proper examination and cleaning.
If you aren’t sure how to brush correctly with braces, don’t worry! We can teach you and your child proper brushing techniques with braces, and you can remind your child about common brushing techniques once the braces are off.
Freeman Orthodontics is available to guide you and your child on your journey to excellent oral health. Stop by and see how we can help!