Did you know that dental anxiety is often passed down from parents to their children? It’s often unintentional, but kids have a keen sense and can pick up on our behaviors and attitudes. If you have anxiety about dental care and avoid going to routine check-ups, your child(ren) will likely know about it. Additionally, kids who start seeing the dentist at an early age (before they have dental issues) are less likely to develop a fear about dental work. Helping your little ones develop good oral hygiene habits can be difficult, but the long-term benefits far outweigh the inconvenience of the struggle. Here are several creative ideas, from the American Dental Association, on how to help your kids get excited about the most basic of dental care skills: brushing their teeth.
4 Minutes of Fun
For optimal results, it’s recommended to brush for 2 minutes, twice a day. But you don’t have to just set a timer and supervise your child’s brushing time. Make it fun with a two-minute dance party to their favorite song. Load a video or brushing app onto a tablet or smartphone to help the time pass quickly. Use a variety of goofy voices to read a 2-minute story. Switch things up and get creative for fun and engaging brush time.
Stick to a Routine
Sometimes it’s tempting to let your kiddo skip a brushing after a long day or when you’re on vacation. Don’t. The more routine and second nature brushing becomes, the easier it is to make sure your child is brushing twice a day for two minutes.
Reward Good Behavior
There are several motivators that can encourage kids to keep with it. Some like reward charts while others prefer special activities. For some, an enthusiastic “Great Job!” is all that is required. Find out what drives your child and reward good brushing behavior.
Incorporate Special Interests
Is your kiddo really into a character or superhero? Many children’s shows and books have stories about brushing. They even sell toothbrushes and pastes featuring many popular characters. By using their hero as a good example, many kids can be convinced to brush regularly. Don’t have an inspirational character? Make one up! Together with your child, create a character that fights off the cavity-causing bad guys.
Make Brushing a Family Affair
Start off with a trip to the store to let your child pick out his own brush and paste. Then set the good example and brush together in front of the mirror. You’d be surprised how natural it is for your little one to imitate your mirror image as you brush. After all, the family that brushes together, smiles bigger. Happy brushing!