We try to make trips to the pediatric dentist at Ponte Vedra Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics as fun as possible for children and their parents. But what about when you’re at home? Is it possible to make oral health a fun activity, so that it grows into a lifelong habit for your child? Absolutely! Here are some strategies to help make daily brushing and flossing seem much more fun, and much less like a daily “chore.”
1. Their Very Own Toothbrush
Let’s start with the basics! If you do a little bit of searching, there’s almost a 100 percent chance you will find a children’s toothbrush that features their favorite cartoon character(s) or animal on it. Make sure they know that it is their very own special toothbrush.
2. Their Own Special Toothpaste
The same goes for toothpaste. It’s easy to search the children’s dental shelf at the pharmacy or grocery store and find a specially flavored children’s toothpaste with cartoon characters on it.
One word of caution, though: The CDC says that most kids in America these days between the ages of 3 and 15 are using too much toothpaste. A dab of fluoride toothpaste that is the size of a single garden pea is sufficient. If a child is covering half the brush or the entire brush with a big glob of toothpaste — that’s too much. Too much toothpaste can lead to fluorosis or staining of the teeth over time, which will have you running back to your Ponte Vedra dentist for help.
3. Add Some Tunes!
Almost every child loves music, so a great way to “set a timer” for tooth brushing is by playing a 2-minute children’s song. Have them start brushing when the song starts, and keep brushing until the song ends.
If you want to make this strategy even more engaging, queue up a playlist of their favorite kids’ songs on your smartphone. Have your child choose the song every time it’s time to brush their teeth. This gives them a sense of control over the activity, and makes it something they will look forward to.
4. Or, Use a Timer!
If music is not an option, try using a plain old timer of some sort. This can be a smartphone app, a digital timer, a ticking clock or even one of those fun sand timers. Just make sure it works for two minutes. The point is to engage your child to brush their teeth the correct amount of time, until the timer buzzes or beeps, or the sand runs out.
5. Make it a Parent and Child Activity
One of the best ways to make sure your child is brushing properly and for the correct amount of time, every time, is to do it with them. Younger kids especially like to shadow their parents and imitate them when doing everyday sorts of activities. It’s no different with tooth brushing! Brush your teeth at the same time as your child, and that way you can monitor their progress and technique. Don’t forget to floss their teeth for them when the brushing is done, or to provide them enough help to do it on their own as they get bigger.
6. Children’s Books and Shows
No matter what your child’s favorite show is — from Dora the Explorer to The Wiggles, to Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, or anything else — there is almost a 100 percent guarantee that the show has done at least one episode about tooth brushing or a trip to the dentist! If you do a quick search on YouTube or a streaming service, you’ll find a show that your child loves that talks about the importance of oral health. But don’t just show them the episode and call it a day. Talk about what they’re learning to help reinforce it.
The same goes for companion books that are spin-offs of the TV shows. You’re sure to find a book or two about brushing or trips to the dentist. You get a two-for-one benefit from these books: Reading with your child AND learning about good oral health!
Call Us for Ponte Vedra Complete Dentistry
If it’s time for a checkup or cleaning for your child’s teeth (or yours, moms and dads), give us a call at Ponte Vedra Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics. We provide complete pediatric dental care, childhood tooth extraction, braces and more, in a fun and friendly environment!