It’s rare that you find kids who really love the process of brushing their teeth properly, so kids who don’t brush their teeth well are a frequent frustration for many parents. Some parents may even wonder if it’s worth the battle to make sure their kids brush well and often enough. All dentists will tell you: this is one battle worth winning, and there are some great ways to do just that. Here’s what to do if you have one (or more!) of those kids that don’t brush their teeth.
Dangers of a Poor Dental Routine
Have you ever wondered why it’s worth the bother to make sure your kids brush their teeth twice a day, every day, and brush them properly? If you have, it can be helpful to learn more about what happens when kids don’t brush their teeth.
Kids who don’t brush their teeth can suffer from a lot of preventable problems. They not only experience dental problems like tooth decay and gum disease, but those dental problems can also impact other facets of kids’ lives. In fact, kids with poor oral health can experience pain and infections in their mouths and gums, which can cause problems with eating, learning, and speaking. Children with poor oral health have even been shown to miss more days of school and have lower grades. That’s a big impact from a preventable problem!
Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases experienced by children, but it can be prevented with proper oral care. Sometimes, it’s just about finding the right way to make it a regular and enjoyable part of your daily routine with your kids.
Importance of Oral Hygiene for Young Children
When it comes to oral hygiene for kids, it’s essential to establish a routine early and stick to it. You should start cleaning babies’ gums twice a day to keep their gums healthy, and once the very first tooth appears, begin brushing teeth twice a day. You’ll also want your child to have their first dental visit by their first birthday. A regular oral care routine helps young kids get used to maintaining proper oral hygiene, but it also helps you get used to monitoring their dental health early on.
Young children under 6-years-old will need help brushing their teeth, and it’s important that you monitor how much toothpaste they use and whether they spit it out properly. Even once your child is over the age of 6, you should still watch them brush their teeth to ensure that they are brushing effectively. You may need to help them with both brushing and flossing from time to time. Up until your kids are about 12-years-old, you’ll probably still need to pay close attention to their oral hygiene. You’ll want to check and make sure they are brushing their teeth correctly twice a day, flossing daily, and using the right oral care products.
That said, different ages will need different guidance and encouragement. If your toddler won’t brush teeth, they will likely need to be convinced that brushing is a fun game, while a 10-year-old might just need a reminder or a little more encouragement. If you have kids that don’t brush their teeth, it’s important to figure out how to get them motivated. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to encourage your kids to brush their teeth.
Tips for Parents to Make Brushing More Fun and Engaging
One of the most important ways to get your kids to maintain excellent oral hygiene is to set a great example. Kids tend to do what we model for them, so if they see their grownups brushing and flossing their teeth regularly, they’re much more likely to do the same. Kids who don’t brush teeth frequently have parents who don’t brush teeth. If you skip important steps, your kids probably will, too. Try to brush teeth with your kids in the mornings to show them that you value your dental health as much as you value theirs. From there, it’s all about getting them engaged. Here’s how.
Sometimes the best way to introduce a new concept with kids is often with a picture book? Using a new book or a video with a favorite character could help encourage your kids to get excited about taking great care of their mouths. As kids get older, learning the truth about harmful dental fads like teeth filing can be surprisingly effective. It can also be helpful to make sure they know products to avoid by researching things together like, “Are charcoal toothpastes safe?”
Use a Timer
Often, kids who don’t brush teeth for the full two minutes or floss properly say they feel like it’s boring or takes too long. A fun timer can help ensure that they brush long enough and can also make brushing teeth feel like more of an event. Look for a timer they can use themselves or try using a small hourglass. You can also play/sing their favorite song or recite a nursery rhyme that takes the full two minutes. Bonus points if your kids want to brush and floss every time they hear it!
Turn Brushing Into a Game
When in doubt, make a game out of it. If your toddler won’t brush teeth, pretend there are little sugar creatures you have to capture with the toothbrush and rinse away down the sink! See who in the family can remember to brush without a reminder each day for a reward. Make up a new character with a silly voice who helps your child brush their teeth. Whatever gets your kids interested and engaged when it comes to brushing their teeth is a great idea.
Encouraging Kids That Don’t Brush Their Teeth
Now that you know what happens when kids don’t brush their teeth, it’s important to encourage your child to brush regularly and floss well. Try some of the methods above to get your kids engaged in brushing and teach them to keep their mouths and bodies healthy.
To learn more about how a healthy mouth can benefit the health of your entire body, pre order your copy of If Your Mouth Could Talk by Dr. Kami Hoss.