How To Get Kids To Brush Their Teeth

Estimated read time 4 min read

If your kids fight your efforts to keep their teeth clean and don’t want to brush, what can you do? Try these creative tips to encourage your kids to brush their teeth.

Teaching Kids To Brush Their Teeth

When you ask your children to get out the floss, do they scatter to the wind? Does your toddler throw such a fit when it’s time for tooth brushing that you’re tempted to just skip it to avoid the hassle? That’s understandable, but a big mistake.

You are doing your child an enormous favor by helping her establish consistent brushing and flossing routines in early childhood. A build-up of dental plaque can combine with foods not brushed away to form harmful acids that can lead to tooth decay (cavities) and even gum disease. If you factor in frequent consumption of juice or milk in sippy cups that continually bathe the teeth in sugars, trouble lurks down the road unless teeth are thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis.

You may also like our All About The Food Pyramid printable!

Use marketing magic

Is it necessary to buy anything fancier than a plain, inexpensive soft-bristled toothbrush and basic dental floss to get the job done? Definitely not. The fact is though, that kids respond to the huge variety of products now available in the toothbrush aisle. Remember the research where children preferred the carrots packaged in a fast food box? Even if it means paying slightly more, capitalize on your child’s wish for a Curious George brush or Wacky Watermelon toothpaste, and watch their cooperation level rise. Toothbrushes that play music, light up, or are decorated with your child’s favorite TV character can be enticing, and a colorful, shark-shaped individual “flosser” may be just the thing to inspire your reluctant son. Let your children participate in the shopping.

Rev it up

Powered toothbrushes are another option to spark the interest of the younger set. Kids may be intrigued by the rotating or oscillating bristle action and the exciting noises. The battery-powered models are generally inexpensive, and like their manual counterparts, come in fun character versions that kids love. One caution: back teeth may be hard to reach in very young children’s mouths with this type of brush.

Make it a game

With little ones, try turning brushing time into a little race. If Daddy says “I’m going to beat you to get your toothbrush!” your toddler may get into the spirit of the “competition”, and not realize this game will achieve your intended result. Or use the music or lights on a timed brush to your advantage by allowing your child to push the button a second time and brush alone after you’ve brushed the first round. If your child’s favorite color is green, ask him to search for the green flosser you’ve hidden in the drawer. Feigning “blindness” after looking at the newly sparkling white teeth often brings laughs. Reward cooperation with much praise and keep looking for ways to incorporate the element of play.

Try our Screen Time Rules Chart.

First things first

Ideally, your children should brush their teeth every time they finish eating. Realistically, your minimum goal should be to make sure your kids’ teeth are brushed and flossed to remove all dental plaque at least once a day. Try requiring the dental hygiene session before a preferred activity. For example, if your child loves her bedtime story, make it clear that will only happen after she brushes well. Or during the day, hold back the favorite video, coloring books, or outside play until flossing is mission accomplished. Your kids will quickly learn that refusing to brush will limit their options, and you’ll be helping them to establish daily habits that will keep their beautiful smiles healthy for life!

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