Most kids don’t exactly love brushing their teeth, but brushing is a very important aspect of overall dental health, so it’s crucial you instill this habit early in life. In fact, many dentists recommend that you start implementing brushing techniques as soon as your child gets their first teeth.
When your child is cutting their first teeth, you can start with parent-led gentle brushing without toothpaste or even gum brushing. This helps to establish a routine, even if your child is too young to really comprehend what’s going on. As they get a little older, let them hold the brush and try it on their own. Again, establishing a routine and getting your child to buy into brushing their teeth is more important than having great brushing coverage at this point.
If your child doesn’t like the toothpaste, let them brush without any toothpaste or put a very small amount on. Again, getting them to buy into the regular routine is what’s most important.
Far be it from us to tell you how to parent, but professionally speaking, it seems that parents have better luck getting their child to buy into the brushing routine by practicing positive reinforcement as opposed to a reward/punishment system. By saying “If you don’t brush, you won’t get your toy,” you’re making the activity a chore or a stepping stone instead of something that is just routine.
Other options some parents have found helpful include:
- Reading stories about the importance of brushing teeth.
- Singing songs or playing a brushing song or dancing while brushing your teeth.
- Brushing your teeth while your child is brushing theirs.
- Letting your child help brush your teeth before they brush their own.
- Having them “brush the teeth” on their favorite toy before they brush their own.
Again, there’s no perfect playbook for getting your child to regularly brush their teeth, but taking something away or withholding something from them when they don’t comply can lead to dental phobia. This means they’ll continue to be reluctant to brush their teeth, floss, or open up for routine dental care when they’re in our chair. Try different strategies until you find what works best for you and your child.
Smiles for Life Dental
We’re not saying it’s going to be easy, but it will be worth it in the end if you can establish a healthy dental hygiene routine with your child. If you’re having issues, please don’t hesitate to call our office or look for other sources of information on the subject. Not only will it lead to a healthy smile for your child, but establishing a good dental health routine can save you money down the road by preventing cavities and other teeth problems. For more information or to schedule your child’s next appointment, reach out to Dr. Brooks at Smiles for Life Dental today.