The foundation for great oral health is laid within the first few years of your child’s life. A number of studies have shown that poor tooth brushing can significantly increase the risk of cavities as children get older. It’s important to get them in on the ground floor of great dental care with regular tooth brushing.
But it can be hard enough to get a child to pick up their clothes or eat their vegetables consistently. Brushing regularly — and brushing well — can be quite the challenge. But there are tricks you can do to make it easier. Here are 3 can’t-fail ways to turn your child into a brushing ninja.
1. Brush with Them
If you’re going to talk the talk, it helps if you walk the walk. Brush your own teeth together with your child. This way you provide a good example — and you can teach them proper brushing through doing. It also doesn’t hurt to get your own brushing out of the way. (We’ve seen your teeth. We know brushing sometimes falls between the cracks.) You’ll teach your child how to brush and that it’s important, and your own dental care will improve. It’s a win-win for the entire family.
2. Buy New Brushes Often — Let Them Pick Something Fun!
As your Cincinnati dentist, we recommend changing toothbrushes every 3 months. Once the bristles start to bend, it’s time to trash that brush — it just isn’t very effective anymore. And if your child is younger, letting them choose their own toothbrush — say a favorite cartoon character — is a fun way to encourage them to brush. Kids love new things. And toothbrushes are a lot more cost effective to replace than teeth.
3. Post a Star Chart with a Clear Reward
Nothing’s free in this world — and that includes kids brushing their teeth. If you want kids to brush their teeth, you’ll need to put something on the line — make it worth their while. Post a star chart on the fridge. They get a silver star if they brush in the morning, a gold star if they brush at night.
But keep in mind — kids aren’t dumb. Stars are currency, not the actual reward. Set an award you both agree on. If they get a certain number of gold and silver stars in a week, they collect.
But do your Cincinnati dentist a favor — don’t make the award candy or other sweets. That’s counterproductive. Instead, plan an award that doesn’t neglect their dental health — say an extra half hour of TV, they get to pick the family movie on Friday night, or they get to do a fun family activity. It should be genuinely something they want. And if they don’t have enough stars that week, the reward is postponed until they do.
After all, brushing like a ninja takes vigilance and discipline. They don’t give throwing stars out to just anybody you know.