3 tricks to get your kids to brush their teeth

February 04, 2016

Encourage-your-little-ones-to-brush-their-teeth-with-these-tips_2020_40108844_0_14124766_650.jpgJust as those pearly whites will start filling in before you know it, your little ones will be growing up sooner than you realize. Soon enough, they will want to try brushing their teeth on their own. Most health care professionals agree that kids should begin practicing this oral hygiene habit by themselves around age 6 or 7.

When deciding if your kids are prepared to take on this task independently, make sure they know all the brushing basics: Brush for two minutes at a time and twice each day, don't swallow the toothpaste, apply light pressure to the toothbrush, point the bristles at a 45-degree angle and don't forget to clean those hard-to-reach places.

Then, the next challenge is encouraging them to keep up this mouth-healthy habit as part of your family dental plan. Here are some tricks for getting your kids to brush their teeth on a regular basis:

1. Let your kids pick out their dental health tools
You know the feeling of wanting to exercise more when you've just picked out some fun workout gear? The same concept applies to kids and toothbrushes. Your little ones may be more likely to brush if they use tools they picked out on their own. You can easily find your daughter's favorite color or your son's latest cartoon character obsession on a toothbrush.

While you want your kids to pick toothbrushes that fit their personalities, you should limit their options to ones suitable for little mouths. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry advised that kids should use a soft-bristle toothbrush that's small enough to reach all the areas of their mouths. Take your kids out for this dental shopping trip every three to four months.

Blue toothbush with toothpaste.
Pick a toothbrush that fits your little ones' needs.

2. Play fun music
Encourage your children to brush their teeth for the full recommended time by playing a two-minute-long, kid-friendly tune. Aquafresh came out with its own peppy number that leads kids through "The Nurdle Shmurdle" dance. The song directs listeners on how to brush their teeth with lyrics like "Just start at the top on your favorite side. Brush inside and out where the food might hide," and even reminds kids to rinse and spit afterwards. Parents can download the song for free.

Of course, you can always just play songs your kids already love. The key is to play the tune for a full two minutes to ensure your little ones spend enough time cleaning each tooth.

"When selecting a toothpaste, consider your kids' dental health status."

3. Use funky toothpaste flavors
Toothpaste has come a long way from the standard mint flavor. Dental health product manufacturers have produced a wide variety of tastes, and consumers can choose from just about any flavor imaginable. From cinnamon and cupcake to chocolate and even pickle, there's something for even the pickiest of kids.

Use this to your advantage when motivating your little ones to brush their teeth. However, when selecting a product, make sure it contains fluoride, and consider your kids' dental health status. For instance, do they experience sensitivity to hot and cold foods? Opt for a toothpaste that has potassium nitrate or strontium chloride, which helps with this issue, according to the American Dental Association. Have you noticed your children's gums are red or inflamed? Look for toothpaste with stannous fluoride and triclosan to reduce gingivitis.

A word of caution: Be leery of turning brushing time into a competition between siblings. As a parent, you may be tempted to make this oral hygiene habit fun by saying "whoever brushes their teeth the fastest wins." Doing so encourages kids to brush less than two minutes and may prompt forceful movements in their haste, which could lead to receding gums. And of course, you don't want to start a sibling squabble!

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