How Parents Can Win the “Brushing Battle” With Children

SAN FRANCISCO- We all know good dental health begins in childhood. Actually getting kids to brush and floss their teeth, however, is easier said than done. February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, so let’s discuss ways parents can prove victorious in the brushing battle with their children. Here are six:

1. Begin early. It’s never too early to implement good dental hygiene habits! If children are accustomed to a diligent schedule of brushing and flossing, they’re less likely to fight it once those toddlers years hit.

Even before the first tooth has sprouted, gently wipe an infant’s gums with a damp cloth to remove milk and food residue. Begin brushing once the first tooth erupts. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends babies see a pediatric dentist for an evaluation no later than his/her first birthday. At about age 4, allow your child to hold a toothbrush and try brushing his/her teeth (with your assistance, of course).

“Parents should place big significance on the health of primary teeth,” says San Francisco dentist Dr. Robert Walley. “These teeth reserve the space for permanent teeth and help guide them in. It’s important that permanent teeth enter into a healthy environment.”

2. Make brushing fun. It’s no surprise- kids like fun. Transform a blasé brushing routine into a fun-filled adventure by playing music, composing a special brushing song or bringing a friend (perhaps a favorite doll, action figure or stuffed animal) to the sink.

3. Involve the family.  Child see, child do. If you make brushing and flossing a priority, it’s likely your child will follow suit. Spiritedly brush and floss with your child to communicate how important (and fun!) dental hygiene is.

4. Let kids pick their equipment. Most kids crave independence. Thrill your child by allowing him/her to select their toothbrush and toothpaste. Just be sure the brush is an appropriate size and has soft bristles. If possible, we at Robert M. Walley, DDS recommend Sonicare For Kids for children ages 7-10.

5. Offer rewards. Measure your child’s brushing successes with a chart. Place a fun sticker on the chart after every fuss-free oral hygiene routine, and reward them with a small toy or tooth-friendly treat once he/she reaches a certain number. Meeting a goal is also a great feeling for a child.

6. Don’t give up. Of course, the effectiveness of each tip will vary depending on the age of your child. Tailor your techniques to your child’s age, but remain consistent. Certainly, there will be days where your child doesn’t want to comply, but ensuring their teeth and gums stay healthy is worth any struggles. Poor oral hygiene now translates to pricey and dangerous dental problems in the future.  

Have questions for us? Give our San Francisco office a call, or ask us at your next appointment. In addition to providing you with strong oral health and a dazzling grin, it’s our goal to equip you with the knowledge necessary to keep your family smiling.