Tag Archives: kids

8 Fun Ways to Get Your Kids to Care About Their Teeth

It’s not always easy to get your kids to brush their teeth regularly. Until children reach the more mature age of about seven or eight years old, you may be constantly persuading (or nagging) them to routinely brush their teeth. The American Dental Association has declared February National Children’s Dental Health Month, reminding parents everywhere the importance of educating our kids about proper dental care. Here are some fun, encouraging ways to keep your children’s pearly whites healthy:

  1. Brush to a song

    Since brushing your teeth should last about two to three minutes of thorough cleaning, encourage your kids to pick out their favorite song to listen to while brushing for the entire length of the song. This can be a distraction, but it can also be a great way to keep track of time and keep them motivated.

  2. Turn teeth brushing into a group activity

    At an early age, the saying, “monkey see, monkey do” is still a very real concept. Brushing your teeth together with your child, in stages, offers guidance and encourages good brushing habits. Follow the right teeth brushing routine with your child every night until your child can do it by themselves. You can make this process more fun by making silly faces, naming each tooth as you attend to it (to encourage that every tooth is brushed), and even switch roles, letting your child take the lead.

  3. Create a reward chart or system

    Children are highly motivated when they know they get recognized for their efforts. To reward your child for doing well, you can create a sticker chart or present a weekly prize, helping them stay on top of their daily brushing routines. This helps your child keep up good brushing behavior.

  4. Let your child pick their own toothbrush and toothpaste

    Brushing may be more enjoying to children if they have a more active role in picking out their own brushes and toothpastes. Bright colors, characters, or different flavors can create a more appealing side to dental care.

  5. Explain the importance of each step

    When teaching your child the right steps, try to explain the importance of each step. This includes brushing the surfaces of all teeth, angling the toothbrush at 45 degrees towards the gum line, and brushing in a circular motion. You can make this a fun experience by creating a funny rhyme or telling a funny anecdotal story that goes along with each step.

  6. Try baby-sized flossers

    Flossing can be a pain, literally, for children with small gaps in between their teeth. To make flossing a more pleasant experience, try baby-sized flossers, which are sold in most supermarkets. Reinforce good habits with praise and supervision, since incorrect flossing may cause gum inflammation and bleeding.

  7. Personifying plaque

    Plaque causes cavities, leading to gum disease, which is a concept that can be creatively explained to your kids. Personifying plaque as the “plaque monsters” or “bad guys” (or any other name that will give plaque a villainous image,) might be an effective method to motivate your kids to brush properly.

  8. Consider electric toothbrushes

    Nowadays, electric toothbrushes can do anything: shake, play music, pulsate, rotate in many directions, and appeal to young children. Electric toothbrushes create a more stimulating experience, appealing to more than one sense, keeping your kids entertained while brushing. Some studies show that electric brushes are equally as effective, if not more effective in removing plaque, when used right.

Mini-Denture Duties

Taking care of your child’s teeth begins long before their permanents come in. A common assumption is that temporary dentures don’t need to be kept as clean since they will be replaced eventually, but this is far from the truth. Decay and infection can occur with any tooth whether it is temporary or not, and to protect your little one from a painful experience and a possible traumatic trip to the dentist, hygienic practices should be put in place early on.

Teething

Between the first three months to a year, a baby will usually breach at least one tooth. This process can be quite painful and stressful for the child but there are ways to comfort and help them through the event.

First you should pay attention to signs that your baby is teething: drooling more than usual, red cheeks that are hot to the touch, irritability, and excessive chewing tendencies. If you can see in their mouth, check for redness or swelling. You can also lightly press your finger down on their gums to check for incoming teeth.

Infants will typically fuss more as the pain increases but a chilled teething ring will help soothe the pain and provide relief to the gums. Although there are teething gels that numb the gums from pain, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned of the potential reactions to Benzocaine, which is the active ingredient in the gel. Since 2006, approximately 30 cases have been reported of severe reactions to the chemical that typically included skin turning a blue-gray color, short breathing, light-headedness, rapid heart rate, and in a few cases, even death.

In most cases, it is best to just comfort the child and provide something to chew on until the tooth breaks through the gums. Once this happens, the pain typically subsides completely.

Teaching

Once the baby teeth have come in, it’s time to teach your child the habit of good brushing. Aquafresh.com offers some advice on helping children become used to brushing teeth. They recommend that until toddlers become accustomed to the feel of bristles on their teeth (which can tickle), children may be better off starting with a damp washcloth instead. Getting them to hold still long enough to do any actual cleaning can be tough, but if they think it’s a game, they will be more cooperative. Be sure to explain what you’re doing and why so they aren’t afraid of the process.

After they are used to the feel of a toothbrush and are capable of holding it themselves without poking their throat, let them attempt to brush their own teeth. Start with helping them scrub the outside of the teeth and gradually work them up to being able to reach the insides and molars. At first, don’t put toothpaste on the brush. Just get it wet and let them practice before giving them actual toothpaste.

Until they are about six years old, you will need to do the final brushing in order to ensure they get thoroughly cleaned. Brushings should be routinely done in the morning and at night until a habit develops. When the child can do the whole procedure by themselves, you will only have to supervise.

Pulling

At the age of about six years, a child will begin to get loose teeth that need to come out in order to make room for their permanents. In some cases, the tooth comes out on its own. But most of the time, kids opt to have them pulled before it reaches that point.

The first tooth to come out can be a scary event but after that, children are generally excited about the event. The best way to get your child over the fear of teeth-pulling is to make the process as interesting as possible. Although you can pull the tooth out for them by hand, or let them do it, kids often find it more entertaining to yank it out with string.

Unique ways to pull out teeth include tying a string to a doorknob and opening the door suddenly, attaching the string to a remote-controlled car or helicopter and jerking it out that way, or tying the string around a rock and throwing it. Whatever your method, make sure the string is tied tightly around the tooth, and that the child keeps their mouth open wide enough to keep the tooth from hitting anything on its way out.

The long-held tradition of putting teeth under their pillow at night and promising a visit from the “tooth fairy” can make any youngster excited to get teeth out as soon as possible. Whether the prize is money, a toy, or a piece of candy, this is great motivation for teeth removal.

Dentist Visits

For children unaccustomed to the cold feel of a dentist office and the intimidating scene of equipment, dental check-ups can turn into a harrowing ordeal. Taking your smaller children with you to your own dental appointments will help them get used to the environment. Over time, you can introduce them to their own dentist and begin regular check-ups with them. Most dentists will give well-behaved children (and even misbehaving ones) a sticker or two as a reward for their attendance.