When you tell your 4-year-old to brush his teeth before school, do you get the sense he really hides in the bathroom for a few minutes without brushing? Younger kids don't understand the importance of taking care of their teeth or overall health, according to pediatrician Dr. Sears, and dental hygiene for kids shouldn't focus on the nuts and bolts of oral care. Your child is probably too young to understand what a cavity is. Instead, make the experience of mouth care fun and enjoyable for everyone in the family.
Let Them Choose
When it comes to the toothbrush or toothpaste to be used, give your toddler or preschooler some say in the matter. Hype up the prospect of going to the store to pick up toothpaste or a new toothbrush. If you want, let your child pick out a couple of different brushes so that he can pick the one that matches his or her mood for the day. Toothpaste and toothbrushes with a favorite cartoon character on them, such as Colgate® Kids Dora the Explorer® Toothpaste, can make everyday brushing more exciting for your child.
Set Up a Star Chart
Make twice-a-day teeth brushing a fun goal for your child to reach by hanging up a star chart in the bathroom or on the bathroom door. Hang a sheet of stickers next to the chart while you're at it. Each time your child brushes in the morning and at night, have him or her place a sticker on the chart. At the end of the week, count the stickers, and give your child a reward based on the total.
If your child has 14 stickers on the chart, take him to a new movie over the weekend. If he has more than 10, let him pick out a small treat at the store, followed by a customary high five.
Remember to keep the chart fun and exciting for your child. If he doesn't get 10 or more stickers in a week, it's not the end of the world. Talk to him about it, and reinforce a goal for next week.
Have a Dance Party
Let's face it: Teeth brushing can be a little boring for your child. One way to jazz up dental hygiene for kids is to turn brushing time into fun time. Bring a radio or mp3 player into the bathroom when it's time for your child to brush his teeth, and turn it into a family dance party.
Pick an upbeat song that's about two or three minutes long, and have a dance-off while everyone brushes. Depending on how creative you feel, you and your child can work out a special toothbrush dance — traditions are your best friend. Remember to work brushing different areas of the mouth, such as behind the teeth and the tongue, into your skillful dance moves.
Bring a Special Friend to the Dentist
Dental visits are a part of a healthy mouth routine for your child. But visiting the dentist can be scary for kids. One way to make a dental visit less intimidating is to choose a pediatric dentist, who will know how to interact with kids, and whose waiting room is full of fun toys. Another way to get your child more comfortable with seeing a dentist is by giving him a special toy or stuffed friend who comes along only on trips to the dentist. Your young ones will surely start to look forward to their dental trips when they realize it's a trip to see their favorite toys at the same time.
Healthy dental habits start when a child is young. Make dental hygiene fun for your kids so that they'll want to keep up the good work themselves as they get older.