The best way children learn is from watching their parents do things. If you model good dental care for them, they will want to do it as well. Make it an enjoyable time together. Create fun routine for them to get excited about after each meal. You can show them short videos of children their age having a good time brushing their teeth, which will encourage excitement to do it themselves. Children love to watch what other children their own age are doing and do the same themselves. Use this to your advantage.
Make It Fun
Another thing you can try with your children is to tell them stories and analogies while brushing their teeth to make it a fun time and help them understand the why they would want to brush their teeth. Make up creative symbols for the toothbrush, the toothpaste, and the icky food that will make deep holes in their teeth. Giving them a healthy fear of sugar will also help get them to brush and stay away from sweets at meal time. Turn brushing time into a battle of good vs. evil and they fight against the evil plaque with their powerful weapon the mighty toothbrush. If they can picture in their minds what is going on in their mouth, they will be more motivated.
You can also try playing a special toothbrushing song while they are brushing. This makes it fun for them to repeat the brushing over and over after each meal.
New things are always fun for children. Make sure they are involved in buying their toothbrush. Let them hold it in the store before you check out, and also in the car on the way home. Have them put it in the special toothbrush holder after they open it up. Children like to also have choices. You can let them have more than one brush. That way they can choose which one they want each time. If this does not work, than switch brushes with them every week so they don’t get tired of one brush.
Electric toothbrushes can also be fun for children and a good way to motivate them. It make the brushing fast, fun, and easy for them. Most children like the buzzing sound and it makes them feel like they are playing with a toy rather than simply brushing their teeth.
You could also try a water pick. Though they can be a little messy and wet, children usually love to play with them and put them in their mouth.
Explain the Techniques
Teach them to do a thorough job. Explain the techniques that will give them the best results. Tell them to brush in a circular motion and to do it gently so they don’t injure their gums. Tell them that if they brush too hard their toothbrush will get smashed down and will not work very well. Show them how to take care of their toothbrush and how to rinse it well before and after they use it. Children like to rinse things.
When children are too little to do a good job, it’s all right to help them out and give them a good brushing for them. Talk to them as you do it, telling about why and what you are doing. For example, tell them you are now brushing the teeth way in the back and making sure you are getting the outside, the tops, and the inside. And then say you’re going around to the other side of the mouth and doing the same thing. Remember, children love repetition, so use that to your advantage. Repeat what you say for each of the four sides of the mouth.
If a child does not like you have to brush their teeth, you can also employ a furry helper to do the job. Find a puppet and use that to brush their teeth. That will make it fun for the child. If they still refuse and they are young, don’t push the issue. Try again the next meal. Don’t make it a fight or traumatic for them. There is plenty of time for them to make a good habit.
Once your child is about five or six years old, they have enough dexterity and fine motor skills to be able to brush properly by themselves. They probably will still need some reminding and encouraging to get it done. A kind word of encouragement will go a long way. The American Dental Association recommends that children be supervised until they are seven or eight. By this age, you might want to try tools for helping them gauge how long they need to brush. If left on their own, children will tend to tire soon and brush more and more hastily over time. Find a fun timer and counter which will let them know when they have brushed long enough. About two minutes is a good time to brush.
If their plaque has hardened and turned into tartar, explain that they need to go to the dentist so they can get them well cleaned with special tools.
Dealing with Fear of Dentist
Many researchers have found that the reason that so many children are afraid of going to the dentist is because one or both of their parents has some level of fear of dentist. It is interesting to note that if the father is the one that is afraid, the children are more likely to be afraid than if it is the mother who is afraid. Children learn by example the most, so be sure to stay calm and don’t say any negative things about going to the dentist.