Chances are if you have a young child at home, you’re getting into the habit of regular daily toothbrushing and oral care. Some children take well to this new change, and others require a bit more persuasion. Try these toothbrushing games and tips for making your routine a bit easier.
- Give Them a Choice. Instead of using the same toothbrush and toothpaste each time, give them a variety! Have a range of different tooth brushes and tooth pastes. That way, it’s up to her whether to put fruit toothpaste on a purple brush or mint flavoring on Bubble Guppies — and that’ll make her far more likely to brush with a smile.
- Sing-A-Long! For an antsy toddler or preschooler who is rarely sitting still, distraction is your best bet. Sing outloud your child’s favorite themesong, artist, or other melody. Or introduce this ditty, crooned to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”: “Brush, brush, brush your teeth, brush them left to right. Brush them up and brush them down to keep them clean and white.” To make these toothbrushing games more fun, sing it faster and faster until you finish the job (before your little one even realizes it!).
- Play Pretend. If your toddler is afraid of brushing, have her “play dentist,” to show her there is nothing to fear. Set up a dentist’s office, enlisting dolls and stuffed animals as patients waiting for a thorough cleaning. Let your little one brush her furry friends, then trade off and do a dry run (with a dry toothbrush) in her mouth. It’ll show her that toothbrushing isn’t nearly as scary as she thinks.
- Hear Me Roar. It can be hard to get your tot to open wide enough to get at her back teeth. But she’ll be happy to oblige if you ask her to roar like a lion or open wide like a hungry hungry hippo! Or play this toothbrushing game, an oral-hygiene version of Red Light/Green Light: When she opens her mouth, you make a silly sound while you brush. When she clamps down, you freeze. She’ll enjoy herself so much that she’ll let you keep cleaning so you can both keep playing.
- Time It. It’s best to brush teeth for a time of 2 minutes. Set up a fun timer in the bathroom and let the countdown begin! You can even let your child assist in choosing the timer, as well as helping to start it at the beginning of your sessions.
- Reward Them. It’s no secret that children love to be rewarded for a job well done. Try setting up a fun chart in the bathroom or bedroom that you can add stickers to. For each time that they brush their teeth (with your help), give them a new sticker to add to their charts! Once they’ve reached a certain amount of stickers, allow them to choose a prize or take them to do something special. After all, good oral health is definitely reward-worthy.
Try one (or all) of these kids’ toothbrushing games and see how eager she is to get brushing. And don’t forget to make an appointment for your child to visit the dentist – 6 months after their first tooth erupts.