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Do your children enjoy brushing their teeth? If not, make the twice-daily task more appealing. Many kids resist teeth brushing because it usually signals bedtime. Kids need to learn about the importance of oral hygiene and its connection to their overall health. To combat cavities, gingivitis and tooth decay, introduce games that make teeth brushing time a fun experience.

Start Young
It’s never too early to introduce your children to good oral hygiene habits. Gently wipe your infant’s gums with a clean washcloth after she eats. This practice removes plaque and prepares your child for dental exams even before all her teeth grow in.

Starting at age two, children should receive a professional dental cleaning and exam every six months. The dentist checks for cavities and inspects your child’s oral health. While brushing at home is important, seeing a professional is needed to make sure the teeth are coming in correctly. Dental insurance plans help to cover the cost of procedures and check-ups that would cost a lot more if you had to pay out of pocket. Visiting the dentist regularly helps to ensure your children’s teeth and mouth remain clean and healthy.

Give Your Children Choices
Allow your children to choose their own tooth brushing accessories. A favorite character or a spin brush gives your children an incentive to brush their teeth. You’ll also want to provide fun accessories, like toothpaste that tastes great, individual flossers and kid-friendly mouthwash. These tools will help you introduce fun teeth brushing games, such as:

  • Make train noises while brushing.
  • Switch up toothpaste flavors often to keep kids interested. Take them with you to the store so they can pick out their own tubes.
  • Play a game where you pretend they’re brushing with ketchup, chocolate ice cream or pudding. Ask your children to imagine each flavor and encourage them to tell stories about their experiences after they’re done brushing.
  • If your kids aren’t scared of the dark, turn off the bathroom lights, switch on a flashlight and imagine you’re traveling into space while your children brush their teeth. Make up astronaut adventures that will distract them, such as using a timer as a countdown to liftoff.

Children have wild imaginations. Use their creativity to your advantage and allow them to direct the narrative to keep them intrigued. What activities do your children enjoy? Find a way to add that activity to your child’s tooth brushing experience. Brush your teeth at the same time they do so they won’t feel like they’re being forced to do something unpleasant.

Practice on someone else
Most children love helping. Let your children practice on a doll, puppet or stuffed animal. As they help, they assume responsibility and can transfer that feeling into caring for their own teeth.

Make tooth brushing a habit
After every meal, join your children in the bathroom. Be sure to laugh, dance and have a great time as you all brush, floss and rinse together. As your children watch their parents have fun and prioritize teeth brushing, they adapt the habit. End on a high note and play a game, read a story, take a walk or complete a craft project after brushing. This incentive motivates even the most reluctant teeth brushers to do a good job.

For children of any age, good oral hygiene is a necessary habit that promotes good health. Help younger children learn good teeth brushing techniques and habits while making the experience fun. With games and laughter, you can turn a chore into a fun event the whole family enjoys.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want their kids to brush their teeth.

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