Encouraging children to brush twice a day takes patience and persistence. Count it up and you’ll give at least 730 reminders each year, and that’s if you just have to issue one reminder for each brushing session. So, how can you get your kids started, and keep them committed to a daily dental routine?
Chart the Course
A daily brushing and flossing chart hung in the bathroom encourages kids who don’t remember to brush. Use stickers and set goals, so kids can work toward weekly or monthly rewards.
“I am all for any reminder that helps kids brush twice a day,” says Dr. Scott Hamilton, a pediatric dentist at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora. Set a dental hygiene reminder on your virtual assistant device, like Google Home or Amazon Echo, for the morning and around bedtime. Hamilton says that these devices can work, especially if kids prefer their reminder from a device rather than from their parents.
Use an App
Apps make any aspect of your day easier, including getting kids to brush. Brush DJ plays favorite music, has a timer, and sets up reminders to brush, change your toothbrush, and visit the dentist. The Brusheez app, specifically for kids, performs similar tasks with the help of a cute monster. Also, check your electric and battery-powered toothbrushes, like Oral-B children’s brushes and Philips Sonicare for Kids, for connections to toothbrush timer apps.
Play a Song
Hamilton says he’s also heard of playing the same piece of music as a cue to start the brushing routine. Find a two-minute song to help kids achieve the two-minute brushing window. Try “Kids Just Love to Brush” or “Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me: Brushy Brush” with Elmo, both from Sesame Street. Or, create a brushing playlist with upbeat songs hitting around two minutes, such as The Okee Dokee Brothers’ “Jamboree” and Lisa Loeb’s “Jenny Jenkins.”
Not brushing enough is the most common complaint from parents about their kids’ oral health, according to a national survey from Delta Dental. To ensure kids brush for the full two minutes, choose an electric toothbrush that stops automatically when kids have brushed long enough.
Make Flossing Easier
Kid flossers, which are small pieces of floss on a disposable plastic handle, can help children learn how to floss. They’re easy to maneuver inside little mouths.
Kid-friendly mouth rinses with fluoride can help prevent cavities, too, but Hamilton cautions that parents should follow the dose and usage directions carefully.