Teaching your kids to brush their teeth early in life is so important for creating healthy habits. It’s beneficial to begin wiping your babies’ gums with a warm wet cloth in the morning and at night before they go to bed to help remove any bacteria from breastmilk or formula. Children should have their first dental appointment when they turn one, and you should begin brushing your child’s teeth in the morning and before bed as soon as their first tooth appears.
“Children who have poor oral health often miss more school and receive lower grades than children who don’t.” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Mothers can help give their children a head start by practicing healthy oral hygiene during pregnancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Children of mothers who have high levels of untreated cavities or tooth loss are more than 3 times more likely to have cavities as a child.” Once the baby arrives, make wiping their gums part of your morning and nightly routine to help start the habit of brushing twice a day. And as they get older, let your kids see you floss and brush your teeth each day.
While we would like to think that children will just immediately love to brush their teeth twice a day, it may take a little more encouragement and coaxing than planned. Making your child’s dental care a priority is so important. Use these 7 tips to teach your kids to brush their teeth each day!
Teach Your Kids to Brush Their Teeth with These 7 Tips
1. Read Books Together About Brushing Teeth
Reading with your children is not only a great way to bond and spend time together, but it also encourages their imagination and language skills. Finding books that focus on certain milestones and skill sets is a helpful way to make learning something new fun and exciting! Use reading fun books as a tool to teach your kids to brush their teeth.
Finding ways to make your child’s dental care a fun part of your daily routine will help instill healthy habits early. Reading books about other children or characters learning to brush their teeth can positively encourage your child to do the same. If your child loves a specific television or storybook character, try and find a book about that character learning to brush their teeth.
For example, if your child is a fan of Daniel Tiger, read the book “Let’s Brush Our Teeth” from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood book collection! Or, if you have a Sesame Street fan, try reading “Ready, Set, Brush!” with Elmo and some of his Sesame Street friends!
As you read about brushing teeth together, have a toothbrush ready so that your child can practice while reading the book! If reading a particular book encourages brushing their teeth, incorporate that book into your nighttime routine.
2. Use a Sensory Game to Demonstrate How to Brush Your Teeth
CREDITS: Cleveland Clinic Images
Sensory play encourages sensory stimulation through different types of activities. Different types of sensory activities might include pouring, sorting, drawing, mixing, or painting. Sensory activities help encourage fine motor skills, gross motor skills, language skills, and cognitive growth. These can be calming and provide a sense of control for your toddler.
Incorporating sensory play into learning everyday skills can help your child feel empowered and excited! As you begin to teach your child to brush their teeth, create an activity to help them learn through sensory play. Add this activity to your play rotation to help teach your kids how to brush their teeth!
Brush Your Teeth Sensory Activity
- Print a picture of a giant white tooth. Laminate the tooth with your laminator or place the picture in a laminated pouch.
- Use a dry erase marker to draw black lines and dots (representing plaque) on top of the giant white tooth.
- Give your child a toothbrush and tell them to brush the plaque off of the tooth.
- For added sensory fun, add a touch of toothpaste to the toothbrush before brushing! Let your kids taste, smell, and touch the toothpaste before they begin brushing the giant white tooth!
3. Set a Tooth Brushing Timer
Two minutes can feel like an eternity, especially for a toddler. So, if your child has trouble brushing long enough, purchase a timer to help them stay focused and push toward their end goal of two whole minutes! Prioritizing your child’s dental care routine now will encourage them to do it on their own later.
The Honwell Musical Timer for kids is a dual tooth brushing and hand washing timer! This battery-powered time has two buttons; one with a picture of a tooth and one with a picture of a hand. The tooth button will play two minutes of a song, while the hand button will play twenty seconds of a song. The light on the timer will stay green while you need to brush or wash and will turn red when it’s time to stop.
The timer has twelve different songs that will play at random, including Old Macdonald Had a Farm, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and I’m a Little Teapot. The timer even includes several holiday songs like Santa Clause is Coming to Town! And with three different volume levels, you don’t have to worry about it disturbing anyone else in the house.
This tooth and hand washing timer is an interactive and fun way to help your child learn to brush their teeth!
4. Turn Brushing Teeth into a Game or Dance Party
If it’s difficult to get your child to brush their teeth for a full two minutes, try playing one of their favorite songs while you brush. Make it a game and tell them they can’t stop brushing until the music stops! Dance along with them as they brush their teeth for a fun dance party and let them pick the song as part of their morning and nighttime routine.
As an extra incentive to get your child to brush their teeth, purchase the powered Colgate hum toothbrush for kids! This super fun, smart toothbrush is available in coral or yellow and comes with a gaming app to encourage kids to brush! The app rewards your child’s brushing habits by unlocking new games and rewards in the app each time they brush. Colgate also offers a manual hum toothbrush if your child isn’t comfortable with the powered version.
The app teaches kids how and where to brush and includes a two-minute timer to make sure they brush long enough. This smart toothbrush uses augmented reality to help your child brush more thoroughly and lets you track their brushing progress in the app! Who knew brushing teeth could be so fun?
5. Go Shopping Together for Fun Dental Care Products
Focusing on your child’s dental care doesn’t have to be a drag! Help your child get excited about brushing their teeth by shopping for fun dental care products together! Take your child to the dental care aisle and show them all of the fun dental products they can choose from! As you look at different products, explain what each item does and how they keep their teeth healthy and strong!
Show your child two different options for a toothbrush, floss, and toothpaste, and let them pick which ones they want. When you get home from the store, head to their bathroom to let them try out their new dental care items! Pick a home for each item in the bathroom, and let your child know that you can’t wait for them to use their new toothbrush again tonight!
With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to know which dental care items are best for your kids. Here are a few of our favorite dental care products for kids!
Pretend play is an important part of child development. It helps kids use their imagination, improve language and communication skills, and develop problem-solving skills. When teaching your kids how to brush their teeth, let them experiment and practice on a doll or stuffed animal.
Use a Doll or Stuffed Animal
Let your child pick their favorite doll or stuffed animal and show them how to brush the doll’s or the animal’s teeth. Provide a toothbrush and pretend to add toothpaste (or actually use toothpaste if you don’t mind a mess) to the toothbrush. Let your child brush the doll’s or animal’s teeth and encourage them as they do so. Tell them they are doing a great job and how clean their doll’s teeth look!
Keep a spare toothbrush in your child’s playroom to let them pretend with the toothbrush as they play throughout the day. For a full tooth brushing experience, purchase an animal brushing toy like this giraffe or dragon! Animal brushing toys are specifically designed to help kids learn to floss and brush their teeth. These toys are educational and fun!
Create a Dentist Office in Your Child’s Playroom
For even more fun, purchase a full pretend play dental kit by Melissa and Doug to create your child’s own dentist office! This realistic dental care set includes everything you need to give your pretend teeth set a full dental cleaning!
Use a dry erase marker to create “plaque” on the teeth, and let your kids brush the plaque away with the pretend toothbrush and tooth polishing products! This pretend play dental care set is also a great way to introduce your child to familiar dental tools that will help them look forward to visiting the dentist!
Let Your Child Brush Your Teeth
Help your child feel comfortable and confident in their tooth brushing abilities by letting them practice on you! Hand them a toothbrush, help them apply toothpaste, and let them brush your teeth! Let them know where they need to brush and encourage them as they go. After they brush your teeth, ask them if they would like to brush their own teeth now!
Teach your kids to brush their teeth with a sticker chart twice a day! Sticker charts are a great way to help your child stay excited and motivated to brush their teeth! Purchase a tooth brushing reward chart to hang in your child’s bathroom, bedroom, or playroom. After they finish brushing their teeth, let them pick a sticker to post on their chart. After they have consistently brushed their teeth for a full week, let them pick out a prize or do a fun activity!
Keep a prize box in your home with prizes like crayons, coloring books, Play-Doh, and bubbles. Or have a fun activity box where your child can draw a fun activity to do with you. Use incentives like going to the park, visiting the aquarium, or going to the zoo. Sticker charts and prize boxes are also great incentives for potty training, washing hands, and completing chores around the house for older kids.
For a quick visual reference on how to prioritize your child’s dental care, print out this helpful infographic from the American Dental Association on 5 Ways to Prevent Kids’ Tooth Decay!
How do you teach your kids to brush their teeth? Comment Below!