7 Tips to Get Kids to Brush Their Teeth

Try out a few of these tactics to help your child get on a daily routine and the right track for great oral health.

1.) Set a good example!
Lead by example. Show your kids your oral health routine. Let them watch, hand them a toothbrush or if age appropriate some dental floss. Make it a positive experience that is a part of your daily routine.

2) Practice! Practice! Practice!
What’s a little baby doll brushing or practicing on a quick brush on you going to hurt? Nothing! In fact the more familiar the activity becomes for the child the more comfortable and easier to keep up those good oral hygiene habits!

3) Rewards. They work. Use them.
There is something that will entice your little one to brush those chompers. Is it a sticker chart? Maybe it’s a new toothbrush or a special tooth paste? There are several brands of tooth brushes that look and feel like toys, perfect rewards for good brushing.

4) Add some Technology!
What brings kids to the sink? Tunes and apps. That’s right, go to your favorite app store and check out the various apps you can download to provide your oral diva some tunes to jam to. Perfectly timed so they know when it’s been long enough, and they can stop.

5) Let Them Do It!
You know the struggle. Let them take the cap of the tooth paste, pour the fluoride into a cup, floss the front teeth… Whatever the task, let them participate as soon as the interest and ability is there.

6) Cater to the Little Things
If you still feel the resistance maybe it’s the toothpaste? No really. Try a new flavor, try a no flavor. Remember the pallets of the young are sensitive and mint and heavy cinnamon can be over bearing for their taste buds. Start mild. Maybe it’s a new step stool to reach and see at a higher height. Try to see the experience from the smaller perspective.

7) Play Games
Try using your child’s imagination to your advantage. Tell them they are space heroes and their mouth has been invaded by a zillion sugar aliens they need to brush out- or maybe they are a Princess and they need to brush the glitter off their teeth. Whatever the game, try to remember what it was like to be a young child and how to enhance the experience for them. 

Don’t forget The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that a child go to the dentist by age 1 or within six months after the first tooth erupts. Primary teeth typically begin growing in around 6 months of age. Find great dental plans for any age here.

Snack habits for kids is risky business for dental health

Tooth brushing only partly protects against the effects of sugary snacks on children’s teeth, research suggests.

A study of almost 4,000 pre-school children showed snacking habits were most strongly associated with decay.

Researchers found children who snacked all day – compared with just eating meals – were far more likely to have dental decay.

The study shows that relying on tooth brushing alone to ward off dental decay in children under five is not enough.

The study also said parental socioeconomic factors, such as the mother’s education level, explained more of the difference in children’s dental decay than diet or oral hygiene.

The researchers said that even though primary teeth were temporary, “good oral hygiene habits are set in childhood, and this relates both to diet and tooth brushing”.

Dental decay

Social scientists from the University’s of Edinburgh and Glasgow used statistical models and survey data to predict dental decay by the age of five.

They used data collected on diet and oral hygiene from repeated observation of children from ages two to five.

Snacking was the factor most strongly associated with decay, with children who snacked all day without eating meals having twice the chance of decay compared with those who did not snack at all.

There was an incremental association between lower frequencies of tooth brushing at the age of two and higher chances of dental decay at five.

Children who brushed less than once per day or not at all at the age of two had twice the chance of having dental decay at five compared with children who brushed their teeth twice per day or more often.

The study is published in the Journal of Public Health.

‘Ongoing challenge’

Lead researcher Dr Valeria Skafida, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of social and political science, said restricting sugar intake was desirable both for broader nutritional reasons and for children’s dental health.

Dr Skafida said: “Even with targeted policies that specifically aim to reduce inequalities in children’s dental decay it remains an ongoing challenge to reduce social patterning in dental health outcomes.”

Study co-author, Dr Stephanie Chambers, of the social and public health sciences unit at University of Glasgow, said: “Among children eating sweets or chocolate once a day or more, tooth brushing more often – once or twice a day or more – reduced the likelihood of decay compared with less frequent brushing.”

The researchers used data from the Growing Up in Scotland study – a social survey which follows the lives of children from infancy through to their teens.

The research was supported by The British Academy, the Medical Research Council and the chief scientist office of the Scottish government Health Directorates.