Getting your little ones engaged and interested in something enough to make it a habit can be a challenge. For example, playing with toys is excellent fun, but putting them away afterward is usually the last thing on the minds of your kids. Obviously, one of the best ways to capture a child’s attention and keep them interested in their oral health is to make it fun.
But what’s fun about trips to the dentist, brushing every morning and every night, and the proper technique for flossing? The tooth fairy is a freebie, taking away the fear and awkwardness inherent in the process of losing teeth. The rest is a bit more of a struggle.
So how do you make oral health fun for your kids?
- Entertaining Accoutrements
Today, there are a wide range of colorful and engaging oral health tools. Toothbrushes come in every shade, and feature every pattern, design, and showcase any character your child can think of. Toothpaste comes in colors, flavors, and packaging designed to engage children as well. Some even have special features, including timers and music that plays for two minutes, ensuring they keep up the cleaning for the entire recommended amount of time.
- Engage their Imagination
Kids enjoy playing pretend, and allowing them to get involved with their oral health by “becoming” someone else is a great way to capture their interest. Brush your teeth at the same time as your kids, so they have a role model in mind. How many times has your daughter done something “just like daddy” in order to feel grown up. Your child may also take the pretending to another level by “playing dentist,” giving them a chance to explore what they’ve seen during their own visits and remind themselves of the important things they’ve learned there.
- Snap! The Job’s a Game!
There are so many different games, toys, and entertainment available to help children become more engaged with their oral health. There are mobile apps that offer videos, timers, and other ways to engage kids during their brushing sessions. Teeth brushing songs are available for listening, and may even be imbedded into your child’s brush. If your child wants to learn the words, all the better! (Just encourage them to sing along in their heads and not out loud, to keep from spraying toothpaste around the room.) Websites such as mouthhealthykids.org have a wide array of resources and activities to help your child become familiar and excited about their oral health.
- Find Partners in Crime
A good pediatric dentist is an invaluable partner in your mission to make sure your kids pick up healthy oral health habits. Not only will they be able to keep your child’s teeth clean and watch for any signs of future trouble, but they can be a second role model and educator. Pediatric dentists are trained in how to best deal with younger patients. Starting regular visits when your little one’s teeth first emerge will help make seeing a dentist a normal and pleasant part of their life.