Guest Post by Dana Mulder
Kids in general either hate brushing their teeth or they simply couldn’t care less. However, it is important to teach your kids how to brush their teeth to avoid dental and other health problems. With a little patience and creativity, you should be able to get your kids to brush their teeth in no time.
It’s relatively easy to teach preschoolers, as long as it’s fun for them and is done through rhythm and rhyme. Let your kids know that there are germs that we can’t see living on their teeth and it’s important to get rid of them. You can even make a song about teeth brushing.
When teaching your kids how to brush their teeth, first show them the proper way to go about it. Once you have demonstrated the up and down, round and round process of brushing teeth, hand your kids their brushes and let them try. Use a safe kids’ step stool to help them reach the sink. Choose one that is self-retracting so that when your kids are done using the sink, the step stool automatically retracts underneath the sink and out of everyone’s way. Once your child is able to brush his teeth by himself, make a big deal about how great that accomplishment is. Clap and cheer for your child. Brag to other family members about it and have them provide positive reinforcement too.
For Grades K-3rd
Kids this age learn things through presentation and repetition. Offer your kids to watch you as you brush your teeth, explaining things as you go along. Come up with creative analogies: “plaques are invisible bugs that eat away at your teeth. The only way to get rid of them is to brush your teeth.” Also, be consistent about brushing times.
Grades 4 and up
At this age, there is no better way to effectively teach your kids to brush their teeth than to show them what happens when a person does not brush his/her teeth. Gather pictures of people’s teeth that have serious decay. Or better, get pictures of people with rotten teeth. During your visits to the dentist, teach your kids about proper brushing by asking for pictures of people who do not brush their teeth and explaining to them, “This is what happens to people who do not brush their teeth.”
You can also add that there are health risks when they do not brush their teeth. Some of these include gum diseases such as gingivitis (swollen or inflamed gums), periodontitis, gum infections, bone destruction, and tooth loss. It has even been found that gum disease is a likely risk factor for heart disease and stroke for adults.