Getting your kids to brush their teeth every day can feel like a daunting challenge, but it shouldn’t be. While it’s true that children will need parental guidance to develop any healthy habit, it can usually be done easily and quickly.

Simply telling your children they are likely to deal with cavities—the most common childhood dental issue—may not be enough to foster brushing, especially if a child hasn’t dealt with such a painful issue before. Thankfully, there are other methods for getting children to brush regularly.

Make It a Game. Keeping track of how many times your children brush—say, twice per day—on a chart can be a fun way for children to see their progress. Siblings can even compete to win the “game.” You can use stickers and other fun items to mark progress on a chart. Phone and tablet apps are also an option for tracking how many times a child brushes.

Consider offering a prize for goals met, such as brushing every day for a month. Prizes can vary, ranging from going to the movies or a favorite treat.

Let Your Children Choose. By this, we mean allowing your children to choose their toothbrushes. There are many colorful brushes on the market for kids, some of which have their favorite characters. Such toothbrushes will encourage brushing.

Children should also be able to choose their favorite toothpaste. A flavor your child prefers will make it far more likely that he or she brushes, versus a flavor your child doesn’t like.

Get Younger Children Started Early. Habits stick more easily when started in childhood. Children experience a lot of development before the age of five, so starting children on brushing at this age should increase your chances of success.

Of course, you’ll need to help and supervise your child with brushing before the age of six, when children can start brushing independently.

Make Sure Your Child Brushes Long Enough. In general, everyone should aim to brush their teeth for at least two minutes. Many children will only brush for a few seconds, especially if they view brushing as a chore.

Using a timer or a song that lasts about two minutes is a great way for a child to better keep track of time. It also helps to build a healthy habit. Have your child brush for the allotted amount of time, and mark their progress with a sticker or some other small prize.

Ask Your Dentist for Help. Dentists are here to encourage brushing not only in adults, but in children. Many even do presentations or will visit schools. Did you know you can schedule a dental visit not only to clean your child’s teeth, but to get one-on-one dental instruction. This will help to reinforce a child’s brushing habits, and help your child learn about the benefits of doing so.

If your child is nervous about a dental visit, let them know your dentist will help them be as comfortable as possible. You can also reward your child afterwards with a fun activity or treat.

If you’re in the Smokey Pointe or Marysville, WA area, and have questions about getting your child to brush and floss, contact us today. We specialize in comfortable and stress-free dentistry for all of our patients.