Even though parents begin brushing their child’s teeth at a young age, it can still be a difficult practice for them to adjust to as the years go on. You do everything you can to make sure your kids are safe and healthy. Maintaining their dental hygiene at home is a big part of that, but sometimes kids don’t want to participate. They may not like how the toothbrush feels in their mouth or get bored while standing at the sink.
Understandably, some kids might not like the idea of brushing their teeth twice a day, either. They’d rather be with their friends, play with their toys or watch their favorite cartoons. If you’ve come to dread the tantrums that precede brushing your child’s teeth, you’re not alone. Many parents feel the same way and wish there was an easy solution to saving time and making this essential habit an easy part of their day.
Luckily, there are multiple ways to solve this problem with fun activities for brushing teeth. We’ll help you discover seven ways to make brushing teeth more fun for kids. No matter how old they are, you can make the experience something they look forward to and even enjoy. With a little planning and a few outside-the-box efforts, they’ll learn how to take care of their teeth and value the importance of their two-minute brushing sessions. Here are some techniques to try:
1. Make It a Group Activity
Children look up to their parents as role models. They learn from you as they watch you make dinner, clean the house and interact with other people. They want to be like you, so they wear your makeup when playing dress-up or use a spoon to pretend they’re shaving their face while you shave yours.
Are you one of the many parents wondering how do you teach a child to brush their teeth? Your kids will want to model you if you brush your teeth in front of them, which many parents put off until after their kids have gone to bed.
The next time you ask your kids to get their pajamas on, make brushing teeth fun by having the whole family do it simultaneously. Demonstrate how your kids can put toothpaste on their brushes and move the bristles in a circular motion to clean plaque away from their gumline. Don’t worry about studying pages and pages of journals or parenting magazines on how to brush your teeth for your kids, either. All you have to do is make exaggerated movements so they giggle and have fun.
When you make brushing your teeth a group activity, kids are more likely to get excited about it. It adds a bit of fun to the daily habit and doubles as a bonding experience. They’ll love spending more time with you, and it can even help parents remember to take care of their teeth too.
2. Create Games About Brushing Teeth
Regardless of why your children don’t enjoy brushing their teeth, they’ll be less scared or apprehensive about the activity if you turn it into a game. Kids love letting their imaginations run wild, especially when they get to play with their parents. Combining the two things is one of the best ways to make brushing teeth fun.
Consider your child’s personality and age to find a game they’d enjoy. You might bring their favorite stuffed animal or doll into the bathroom and help them brush their toy’s teeth before your child brushes their own. They may more easily value the act of taking care of their teeth if they believe they’re helping their toy stay healthy too.
You can also redirect your kid’s attention by making them want their toothbrush. When you walk into the bathroom together, make a big show of looking all around the room. Ask where the brush is and point at things that are clearly not a toothbrush. Your child may point to it or pick it up and laugh as they prove that they have it in their hand.
After a minute or two, celebrate their discovery and move onto brushing their teeth. This game makes the toothbrush less scary and connects it with positive affirmations and happiness.
Older kids who understand the concept of germs but still like to play games can play Squash the Germies. Encourage them to squish all the germs around and between their teeth. After they spit out their toothpaste and rinse their brush, you can pretend to inspect their teeth and point out where there are still germs hiding from the bristles. Their thought process will switch from not wanting to use their toothbrush to needing it to get that nod of approval when their teeth are clean.
3. Pick a Cool Toothbrush
Almost everyone shares a sense of pride when they get to pick something out, like a new outfit at the store or decor for the house. Kids will feel the same way if they get to pick out their toothbrush, making it a much less intimidating object to use twice a day.
The next time your family goes to the store, walk down the dental hygiene aisle and let your kids each pick out a new toothbrush. They might want to try one of the singing toothbrushes or one with their favorite characters or colors on it. Once they bring it home, they’ll rush to the bathroom feeling excited to use it because it’s flashy and new.
You could even turn the toothbrush into a prize after a lesson on fun facts about brushing your teeth, like how flossing is equally important as brushing twice a day. If they can tell you three reasons why the habit is so important, they win the new toothbrush.
Parents of younger kids can also use a new toothbrush as a reward they’ll take pride in. When they finish their chore chart or get a great grade on that challenging test at school, they can pick out a toothbrush or get one as a surprise that same day. Kids love getting prizes and rewards, which links the new toothbrush with feelings of happiness and accomplishment every time they see or use it.
4. Get Active While You Brush
Most kids can’t go a day without hearing their favorite songs. They might sing along to that catchy tune from the latest animated movie in the car or jam out while playing in the backyard. It’s impossible not to have fun while singing their favorite lyrics, which is why using music is one of the most popular fun ways to teach kids how to brush their teeth.
While they brush their teeth in the morning or evening, ask them to try to sing a song so you can guess which one it is. You can also do this in reverse if you brush along with them. They’ll laugh as they find it’s impossible to pronounce the words or guess what you sing while you both use your toothbrushes. Come up with a few prizes and keep a count to see who guesses the most songs correctly by the end of the week.
As everyone learns new ways to get active, avoid letting the quality of each cleaning session slip your attention. Even if everyone brushes for two minutes at a time, you should avoid common toothbrushing mistakes that leave bacteria and plaque behind. Pay attention to little mistakes like:
- Brushing too hard.
- Not rinsing the bristles.
- Not brushing in a circular motion.
How your family brushes their teeth is more important than watching the clock to make sure they brush for at least two minutes. As you remind your kids to avoid making these mistakes, they’ll become more comfortable with their toothbrush and form healthy dental habits they’ll carry into adulthood.
5. Give a Nightly Award
Kids respond well to awards. It’s why they get participation trophies in sports or rewards from their teachers for doing well in school. Positive reinforcement sets kids up for success, which parents can use every day with nightly awards.
Every morning and evening, help your kids through their dental routine, so they learn the steps by heart. Encourage them to brush properly, floss after they finish and rinse with mouthwash to protect their teeth with fluoride. After you walk them through the process a few times, supervise from the sidelines to give them the independence to practice. If you’re wondering how to make brushing teeth fun for toddlers, announcing an award and letting them practice with their toothbrush is an excellent way to start.
When they complete the process correctly on their own, they can earn a nightly award. Parents can change this award as often as they like or make it weekly or monthly instead. Younger kids might get a sticker or pick out the book they can read before bed. Older kids could get 15 extra minutes of TV time the next day or a later bedtime on Friday night.
The awards will vary depending on what your kids enjoy and how old they are, but they won’t mind brushing their teeth if they know it earns them something. It’s an instant way for how to make brushing teeth more fun, so try it in your home this week to see how it motivates your children to prioritize their dental health.
6. Try a New Toothpaste
If you brush your teeth with a toothpaste that doesn’t taste good, you’re less likely to jump at the chance to use it. Kids react in the same way. They might throw a tantrum if their toothpaste has a bad flavor, so let them try something new. They can pick a few that interest them at the store, and you can decide which one they take home.
This is a simple way parents can learn how to make brushing teeth fun for kids without taking more time out of their daily routine. It gives kids the power to choose how they take care of their teeth, making them appreciate cleaning them more. You can also monitor what’s in their toothpaste and look for key ingredients that guarantee their dental health and safety.
Parents should only buy toothpaste that includes essential ingredients like fluoride. When a toothpaste contains fluoride as a primary ingredient, it will remineralize your child’s enamel so they don’t experience sensitive teeth or gums. You can also weigh your toothpaste options by searching the ingredient list for things like:
- Calcium carbonate for rebuilding the enamel.
- Silicates for removing bacteria and stains.
- Humectants for moisture retention.
These ingredients provide the main benefits of brushing your teeth, so they should be at the front of the ingredient list. If you find a product with the desired flavor that has all of these critical elements, it’s likely the best choice to bring home.
7. Establish a Daily Routine
It may feel tempting to skip brushing your teeth sometimes. Maybe you don’t have the energy to wrangle your kids through the process another day, but they’ll adjust to the habit if it’s part of their daily routine. Routines establish a balance in life that helps kids succeed. Children thrive when they have predictability and security in their lives, so they’ll come to understand the normality and importance of brushing their teeth if they do it every day.
Dental care won’t be a chore for them if it’s an automatic habit established with routines. These tips will make brushing more fun and enjoyable, but don’t forget to emphasize the need for further dental care too. Parents who make dental hygiene a priority for their kids early on will nurture children who grow into adulthood with a secure grasp on how to take care of their teeth — all because you taught them how to make brushing teeth a habit.
Part of that means reinforcing the daily routine of brushing twice a day, flossing and using mouthwash. It also means finding a dentist who teaches your kids about routine cleanings and x-rays. Before children can learn from a dentist, they need to feel safe. Research the practices in your area and read about why you should trust them with your family’s care.
The right dental office will provide information on crucial safety protocols and offered dental services and create a welcoming environment for families. As your kids get used to their daily dental routines and appointments for cleanings every six months to a year, they’re less likely to feel scared about brushing their teeth. Instead, they will embrace it as an essential part of their lives.
Schedule a Pediatric Appointment With Family Dentistry of New Jersey
Figuring out how to teach your kids to brush their teeth doesn’t have to feel like solving a mystery. Our team of professionals at Family Dentistry of New Jersey consists of reliable pediatric dentists who strive to continue our 100% patient-centric mission by demonstrating patience, empathy and respect. Voted as one of New Jersey’s Top Dentists by other New Jersey dentists, our doctors and team members are specially trained to provide dental work and routine cleanings that look great and improve your quality of life.
You’ll always be in good hands when you call or step into our facility. If you’d like to speak with someone who has experience teaching teeth brushing to preschoolers and older kids, contact our office today to schedule a consultation. It’s our pleasure to help!