Many kids find it difficult to maintain a consistent, effective oral hygiene routine, but making brushing and flossing fun can help set your kids up for a healthy smile and good hygiene habits for life.
Here, we’ll share our top tips for helping your child start a lifetime of healthy oral hygiene habits.
6 Tips For Making Oral Hygiene Fun For Your Kids
Here are six tips you can try to make oral care more fun:
Let Them Choose Their Toothbrush
When it is time for a new toothbrush, let your child pick it out. This gives them a sense of control over their oral hygiene and gives them something to look forward to.
From their favourite movie characters to fun shapes, there is a huge variety of fun toothbrushes out there. However, it is important to pay attention to design and function to ensure effectiveness.
Here are important factors to consider regarding toothbrushes:
- Choose Softer Bristles – Over-aggressive brushing or bristles that are too hard can lead to gum damage and tooth sensitivity. A soft brush can offer an effective clean while helping to prevent damage.
- Match the Brush to the Size of the Mouth – Look for a toothbrush that allows the bristles to reach to the backside of the furthest molar. The brush should be capable of cleaning the entire surface of all teeth without missing any spots.
Toddlers require a toothbrush with a smaller head, softer bristles, and a handle they can grip with ease.
Let Your Child Choose the Toothpaste
As with choosing a toothbrush, letting your child pick his or her toothpaste gives them a sense of involvement in their oral routine, helping to keep them engaged and enthusiastic about caring for their teeth.
Toothpaste is available in a wide assortment of fun flavours and colours. However, as with a toothbrush, it is important to pay attention to function, not just the fun details.
Here are a few guidelines to follow to help assist your child in choosing a fun and effective toothpaste:
- Look for the ADA seal – It is important to find a toothpaste endorsed by the Australian Dental Association. The ADA seal — found on the box of the tube — ensures the toothpaste has been evaluated for safety.
- Choose Fluoride – Fluoride is a mineral that has been proven to help fight tooth decay. While it is an important ingredient, swallowing too much fluoride can lead to fluorosis. For children who are too young to properly spit out toothpaste, consider a low-fluoride toothpaste.
- Beware of sodium lauryl sulphates (SLS) – Sodium lauryl sulfates, a chemical present in many personal care products, including toothpaste, has been linked to allergies, sensitivities, and may even cause canker sores to flare up.
Brush and Floss Together
Young children often love copying their parents. Take advantage of this desire to mimic you by demonstrating the proper way to brush and floss and setting an example by following a daily oral hygiene routine.
Make Brushing a Game
To make brushing more entertaining, you can use a series of games and creative ideas to keep your child excited about brushing and flossing.
Try these tips to help your child love keeping their mouth healthy:
- Tell a story while your child brushes his or her teeth
- Pretend to brush the teeth of your child’s favourite stuffed animal while they brush their own teeth and follow along
- Sing your child’s favourite song as they brush
- Brush along to music for two minutes
- Use reward charts
- Create your own fun song about brushing teeth
Use the Right Amount of Toothpaste
Using too much toothpaste may make it hard for your child to brush properly, while too little may not be effective. Try using about as much toothpaste as the size of a grain of rice for children under 3.
Children aged 3 to 6 should use toothpaste about the size of a pea. Always be sure to supervise your child during brushing as fluoride toothpaste is not meant to be swallowed.
Make Adjustments If Needed
If your child is struggling with teeth brushing, try some of the following changes to make the experience more enjoyable:
- Use warm water – The shock of cold water can bother some kids. A slight temperature adjustment may make all the difference.
- Switch up the toothpaste flavour – Have your child try mint, unflavoured, and fruity kinds to see what they enjoy best. Some dentists even offer travel size tubes of toothpaste so you can find out which flavour your child prefers.
- Go electric – Some kids prefer an electric toothbrush to a standard toothbrush. The consistent motion can be especially calming for some kids.
Start Early With A Child’s Dental Hygiene
It is important to establish a regular oral hygiene routine as early as possible. As soon as your child gets their first tooth or teeth, it is important to gently use a small toothbrush or the pads of your fingers to carefully clean around the mouth morning and night.
Setting up this routine at an early age will help kids get used to the habit of brushing their teeth day and night.
Kids don’t have the manual dexterity to effectively brush their teeth until they are about 6 years old- so until then parents should be assisting or doing it for them.
Tips for Your Child’s First Dental Visit
It is important to know when to set up your child’s first dentist appointment to ensure they become comfortable with regular dental visits.
This helps normalise dental check-ups and establish a positive association with dental visits. Avoid threatening kids with a visit to the dentist if they do not brush properly. This may make a child view the dentist as a sort of punishment.
Need More Tips on Helping Your Kids Set Up Healthy Habits?
Instilling a good oral hygiene routine at a young age can help set your child up for a healthy mouth and teeth for the rest of their life.
If you have more questions about how to help your child brush his or her teeth properly or when they should have their first dental visit, please contact us. We offer a wide range of dental services from general dentistry to children’s dentistry and more and would love to help get your child started on the path to healthy oral hygiene.