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Finding the fun in tooth brushing doesn’t have to be a challenge, and there lies your primary hurdle. When children can associate an activity with something positive, they are usually more willing to do it. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Minimal fuss, fewer arguments and actual tooth care happen!
So what’s the secret? Well, read on to see how you can make tooth brushing fun for your babies and children:
You’re all in it together
Important life lessons start with, you’ve guessed it, you at home. From the moment your baby is first placed in your arms to when they are fully grown and waving goodbye from their car window, your child looks to you to show them how to do everything from basic life skills to how to handle stressful situations.
So show them how to brush their teeth! Babies learn by imitation and watch how you interact with the world. Watch how they wonder and take in everything you are doing, from squeezing out your toothpaste to the movements you make while brushing.
It won’t be long until they are desperately trying to grab the toothbrush out of your hand! When this happens, introduce them to their own brush. Let them get a feel for it in their hand and feel the bristles working on their gums and teeth. Building this into your daily routine will also establish strong habits as they grow. So keep up the family affair!
Sing a song
Did you know that dentists all around the globe recommend that everyone, no matter how young or old they are, brush their teeth for at least two minutes, twice a day? Whether that’s using a clean, damp cloth or a dental wipe for your baby’s tender gums or a brush, removing as much harmful bacteria and plaque will minimise tooth decay and poor dental hygiene.
One of the most fun ways to get your child brushing their teeth is to sing a song. Don’t worry, though; it doesn’t have to be an epic Adele or Ed Sheeran cover. A classic nursery rhyme like Twinkle, Twinkle or Wheels on the Bus will do. Feel free to adapt the lyrics to make them tooth-related for extra oomph as you brush!
What’s more, most nursery rhymes are about two minutes long. This will help your little one get used to the amount of time they are expected to brush for and earn you fun points!
Bright & colourful brushes
Children love bright flashing lights, colourful patterns and their favourite TV or story characters! Fortunately, the clever bods in the dental industry have clocked on to this too. Everything from the PJ Masks and Paw Patrol, unicorns, dinosaurs, tractors and pirate ships all feature. That’s a lot of eye-catching designs to get the most stubborn toddler on board!
Remember the two minutes x twice a day mantra? Well, fortunately, there is a range of children’s electric toothbrushes that come with an integrated two-minute timer, with matching flashing lights. Magic!
Stories make the world go round
Not only is storytelling one of the best tools you have to help your child’s language and speech development, but it taps into their imagination.
Fortunately, many of your little one’s favourite TV show characters like Hey Duggee, Peppa Pig and Sesame Street all have several books available to encourage your little one on their brushing journey. From exploring life in the dentist’s chair to demonstrating specific brushing techniques, it’s all there.
Rewards = consistency
Sticker charts are a parenting dream. Children love the satisfaction of having their behaviour rewarded, plain and simple. So why not include tooth brushing in their range of rewardable activities?
Once your child has grasped the mechanics of brushing, reward consistency with a weekly brushing calendar. If they can achieve all of their goals (i.e. brushing for two minutes, flossing, etc.), they can work up to a bigger reward.
If you want something a bit different, use a decorative jar and fill it with pom-poms, balls or marbles. When the jars full, your child can choose the next family film, a treat from the shop or go out for ice cream.
Employ the Tooth Fairy
The magic of the tooth fairy has lived on for centuries. She is a powerful creature who likes to pay for the cleanest, cavity-free teeth around! If there’s ever been an incentive for your child to keep their teeth clean and healthy, it’s the allure of a hidden silver piece waiting for them under their pillow.
Don’t neglect the dentist
Dentists have built up a bit of reputation over the years. They have become the subject of several nightmares, horror stories and well known for painful tooth pulling. But, all of the myths and fantasy shouldn’t stop you from getting your little one booked in for regular appointments.
As soon as your little one’s first tooth makes an appearance, you should book them in for their first dental appointment. The more they get used to their dentist and the familiarity of having their teeth and gums prodded, the better!
Always remember that positivity and fun are one of the best tools you have as a parent. With that in mind, your child’s experience of the dentist should be no different.
Dentists are not only experts in practical tooth care, but they are an excellent resource when it comes to tooth brushing. Whether you need tips on diet, brushing techniques or concerned about your child’s teeth, they will ensure you get the best advice.
Tooth brushing doesn’t need to be a boring event. Positivity and fun should be the centre of all activities. That way, your child will be more willing to learn and engage! What will be your next toothbrushing song?
© 2021 Alex Thomas