Teaching your child the basics of brushing and flossing early is vital to their good dental health and oral hygiene later in life. But teaching kids about dental hygiene doesn’t have to be boring! Our pediatric dentist talks about 10 fun ways to make learning about dental hygiene enjoyable for kids.
From interactive toothbrushing games to storytime, these activities will help ensure that kids understand the importance of dental hygiene and have fun doing it.
First, The Benefits of Starting Oral Hygiene Early
Introducing good oral hygiene habits to your kids at a young age can lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Children taught proper dental hygiene from a young age are more likely to continue these habits into adulthood. This means they’ll be less likely to experience dental problems such as cavities and gum disease. And oral hygiene for kids is also essential to overall health.
Early dental hygiene education also helps your child understand the importance of taking care of their teeth. By explaining the consequences of poor dental hygiene, you can instill a sense of responsibility for their oral health.
And starting early allows for earlier detection of any potential dental issues. Regular brushing and flossing can help parents identify abnormalities, if any, in their child’s mouth, such as crooked teeth or tooth decay. This early detection can lead to timely intervention and appropriate treatment with a pediatric dentist.
10 Creative Ways to Make Brushing Fun for Kids
You’re a busy parent with lots of responsibility. Teaching your child how to brush their teeth can be a challenging task because it seems like a tedious and mundane task, yet it’s vitally important. That’s why finding creative ways to make brushing fun is crucial to success.
1. Make a Game of It
Kids love games. Turn toothbrushing into a fun game because enjoyable activities instill an emotional feeling while learning. And when learning is fun, it is more memorable. Create a toothbrushing chart with stickers or a rewards system where kids can earn points or prizes for brushing their teeth. You can even have a friendly competition between siblings to see who can brush the longest or get the most sparkling teeth.
Take a look at some game ideas for your child’s tooth-brushing routine.
- Brushing Olympics: Create a timer and have kids compete to see who can brush their teeth the longest. Make sure they don’t brush their teeth for too long because you don’t want them to swallow any toothpaste. Of course, all kids come out winners!
- Mirror, Mirror: Have kids use a mirror to watch themselves brush their teeth and ensure they’re hitting every tooth. You could even point out the various teeth they have, like incisors, canines, and molars.
- Toothbrush Trivia: Play a game of dental trivia while brushing teeth to keep kids engaged. Make the trivia simple, like how many teeth their favorite animal has, what are teeth made of, and how the tongue is the strongest muscle in the human body.
Rewards can range from simple verbal praise to tangible prizes. Think about tooth-friendly snacks, such as apple slices, carrot sticks, celery and peanut butter, and nuts.
The key is to make the rewards age-appropriate and meaningful to the child.
For younger children, stickers and small toys can be a great incentive. For older children, you can consider more substantial rewards, such as extra screen time, a special outing, or even a gift card to their favorite store. It’s important to remember that the reward should be something that the child wants and values.
When implementing a reward system, it’s also essential to ensure it’s clear and consistent. Establishing a chart or calendar to track progress and rewards can help children stay motivated and engaged.
Reward systems encourage good dental hygiene habits and reinforce positive behaviors in general. When children learn the value of caring for their teeth, they’ll be more likely to apply that discipline to other areas of their lives.
2. Use Kid-Friendly Products
Purchase toothbrushes and toothpaste with fun characters or flavors. Let your child choose their own toothbrush and toothpaste, and they’ll be more excited to use them, particularly if they have a favorite character or color. Think about toothbrushes that play music or have built-in timers, making brushing a more interactive experience. Don’t forget the dental floss!
3. Incorporate Technology Into Brush Time
Feel free to incorporate technology into brushing time. You can find apps and videos available that guide kids through proper brushing techniques while entertaining them with engaging visuals and songs. Entertainment alongside toothbrushing makes this task more fun and ensures your children brush their teeth effectively. Undoubtedly, your child has a favorite online video that lasts at least two to four minutes. We highly recommend brushing teeth for anywhere from two to four minutes for best results.
You can start with our dental fun kit, which includes a maze and other fun activities you can do at home with your child.
- Brush DJ: This app plays two-minute songs to encourage kids to brush their teeth for the recommended time. It also reminds them to floss, rinse, and visit the dentist regularly.
- Colgate’s “My Bright Smile” Global Classroom: This online program offers interactive lessons and activities that help teach kids about the importance of oral hygiene. The program is available in multiple languages and is geared toward children of all ages.
- Toothsavers: This app is a game that teaches kids how to brush correctly and encourages good dental habits. Players must save the Tooth Fairy’s teeth from cavities by brushing and flossing regularly.
- Brush Up: This game uses augmented reality to make brushing more interactive. Kids can use their phones or tablets to see their teeth and brush them virtually.
- Kids Dental Health: This app provides a fun and interactive way for kids to learn about dental hygiene. It includes educational videos, games, and quizzes that help reinforce good dental habits.
4. Sing a Brushing Song
Kids love music. Sing fun brushing songs to keep your child entertained during the toothbrushing process. Of course, you’ll want to make sure your child doesn’t sing while brushing their teeth. That would get toothpaste and spit everywhere! Elmo has a brushing song, as does Finny the Shark and The Singing Walrus, all of which offer a goofy and silly musical background to make toothbrushing fun.
5. Read or Tell a Story
Storytime is fun for parents and kids. Moms and dads get to tell a fun, make-believe tale while kids’ faces light up every time you tell them their favorite story. You don’t have to tell a story about teeth. Instead, think of storytime as a motivational tool. “The sooner we brush our teeth, the sooner I can tell you a story!” Or, reward brushing their teeth with a longer storytime before bed.
6. Teach Kids Visually
Children are visual learners. When kids see Mom, Dad, or their older siblings do something, they’ll incorporate that behavior into their lives. Teach them about toothbrushing using visual aids like videos, images, charts, and diagrams. Think about the anatomy of a tooth, how your teeth work, a lesson about cavities, and then how-to videos on how to brush and floss.
Another visual aid you can use is a calendar that tracks their brushing and flossing habits. Kids love to check off boxes and see progress, and this can help motivate them to continue their good habits.
Of course, the most important visual tool is leading by example. When the parents in the household brush their teeth, kids will want to join them.
7. Craft Something Artful
Start a fun and engaging activity by creating a dental health collage. Use magazines or print out pictures from the internet and have your child cut out and glue pictures of healthy and unhealthy teeth. This will help them visually understand the importance of good dental hygiene.
Make a model mouth out of modeling clay. You can use Duplo blocks or Legos as the base of the teeth and jaw before covering them with clay. Then use a piece of string for the floss and a hairbrush for the toothbrush. Kids love to explore their world, and a model of the human mouth and their teeth can be a fun way to talk about oral hygiene for kids. You can make this activity part of afterschool or homeschool crafts or a weekend rainy-day fun time.
8. Make Toothbrushing Goofy and Fun
Consider a fun theme for toothbrushing. Does your child love superheroes? What about horses, dinosaurs, construction vehicles, airplanes, trees, dogs, or cats? As you can see, there are plenty of possible themes here. Have one week to be your child’s favorite color. The following week, the theme can be a letter of the alphabet. Themes don’t have to be complicated. They can be as simple as having their favorite stuffed animal or other object in the room with them as your children brush their teeth.
9. Use Role-Play and Pretend Play for Dental Hygiene Lessons
Role-playing and pretend play can be a fun and effective way to teach your child about dental hygiene. Encourage your child to play dentist by letting them wear a lab coat or a simple face mask and a head mirror to make it look realistic. You can also let them take turns being the patient and the dentist to help them learn about the different ways we take care of our teeth.
Another fun way to role-play is by using puppets or dolls as patients and pretending they have different dental issues, like a tooth coming in or a loose baby tooth. You can guide your child to clean their “patients” teeth by brushing, flossing, and even using mouthwash. This is not only a fun activity but also helps your child develop better dental habits when they see their special comfort buddy brushing their teeth.
Additionally, you can incorporate pretend play into your child’s bedtime routine by using their stuffed animals or toys as a tool to teach proper brushing techniques. You can show them how to brush their favorite stuffed animal’s teeth while talking to your child about the importance of brushing properly.
10. Promote Family Unity
Make brushing a family affair. Brush your teeth together as a family, creating a sense of unity and a fun bonding activity.
Help Your Children Have Great Oral Hygiene!
Ready to help your child learn to care for their teeth for a lifetime? The staff at Parkcrest Dental Group can help.