A third of children don't brush their teeth every day, according to a recent study. Some simply forget to brush; others purposely try to avoid it. Getting kids to brush their teeth can often be a challenge, but it doesn't have to be this way. Here are some tips for improving your child's oral hygiene habits.
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1. Make Brushing Fun
Kids find brushing their teeth boring. You can make the entire process more fun, however, by setting challenges and rewarding good brushing behavior. You could even give your child a small prize at the end of the week, for example.
"Try to brighten up the routine and make it seem more fun," says Parenting for Brain. "Maybe you sing a silly song while you brush your teeth or have a special dance reserved for this time. Any sort of fun activity will get kids excited to start brushing their teeth on their own."
2. Change Your Toothpaste
Children, especially younger ones, don't like the minty taste of regular toothpaste. However, there is a wide range of toothpaste flavors available on the market for kids that will improve brushing habits.
"[Toothpaste manufacturers] cover them in well-known cartoon characters such as the Disney princesses or Hello Kitty and offer offbeat flavors including strawberry ice cream, bubble gum and fruit burst," says The Conversation. "They are often more expensive than the standard adult brands — but many parents are enticed to buy them to do the best for their children’s teeth."
3. Let Your Child Practice on You
This one's a little strange, but it could improve your child's oral hygiene habits over time. If you struggle to get your kid to brush his or her teeth every day, let them practice on you.
"This might be slightly uncomfortable for you, but if it works, the payoff is worth it: if you’re tired of fighting your child to open their mouths and let you brush their teeth, open your own mouth instead and let them practice using a toothbrush on you," says lifestyle magazine MYSA.
Alternatively, brush your teeth at the same time as your child. This will teach your little one how to hold a toothbrush properly and move the bristles around his or her mouth.
4. Choose the Right Toothbrush
Toothbrushes come in all types, and choosing the right one can encourage your child to brush his or her teeth properly. Look for a small toothbrush with soft bristles. To make brushing time more fun, choose a toothbrush with a popular cartoon character or colorful design on the handle. You can find these in most supermarkets and drugstores.
Don't forget to replace your child's toothbrush regularly, too.
"Your child's toothbrush should be replaced every three to four months, or sooner if it is worn out or frayed," says the Colgate Oral Care Center. "It is also a good idea to replace the toothbrush after a cold or flu to avoid reintroducing germs associated with those conditions."
Want to improve your little one's brushing habits? Follow the four tips on this list, and your child will soon get the hang of it! Remember, developing good brushing habits at a young age can reduce oral health problems like tooth decay and gum disease.