We all know that oral hygiene is extremely important to our health and that it is essential to begin good oral hygiene habits early in life. In fact, recent studies show that oral health issues have a significant impact on future school success and overall health. But as parents, how do we get our preschoolers to brush their teeth? While this can often feel like a chore for parents and children alike, there are some ways to make tooth brushing easier and more fun.
First of all, make sure that the toothbrush and toothpaste are specifically made for young children. Toothbrushes for preschoolers will be smaller, and often softer, than adult toothbrushes and children will be less likely to hurt themselves. Toothpaste should not be harmful if swallowed, because many children that age do not yet understand the concept of not swallowing toothpaste.
It is also important to make brushing teeth fun for young children. Getting toothpaste and toothbrushes with bright cartoon characters might help build the excitement about brushing teeth with preschoolers, and brushing teeth with a parent is sure to make everything more fun and exciting. Children under the age of six do not yet have the motor control and strength to brush their teeth as well as they need to be. It will be important that you balance your child’s practice brushing their teeth and getting into this important habit with your own involvement in brushing your child’s teeth. One way to do this is called “Monster Teeth.” After your child has brushed their teeth, it is your turn. As you child to make a monster growl, by snarling their lips up and their teeth together. Next, ask your child to make a monster yell, opening wide so you can brush and reach the back teeth. The individual attention a preschooler receives when brushing their teeth with a parent can make brushing teeth something to look forward to every night.
As with anything regarding preschoolers, modeling is important. Parents can model good oral hygiene by brushing their own teeth with children watching, or talking about how they want to take care of their teeth. Make tooth brushing a family activity that children can do with their parents.
Stickers are a powerful reward for any young child. You can use these in a variety of ways – either just giving your child a sticker each time he or she brushes their teeth without complaining, or keeping a sticker chart of which days this happens. Go with whichever your child seems more excited about for the best way to encourage brushing teeth with preschoolers.