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By Dr. Saleh Al-Daghreer

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Topics: Pediatric Dentistry

Is “brushing your teeth time” a chore at your house? Do you have to trick or bribe your children just to get them to stand at the sink and brush? You’re not alone. Oral hygiene is not the most exciting daily task, but as we know, it’s an important part of a person’s overall health. So how do you teach your children that?

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Oral hygiene education is an ongoing effort. Through play, books, and visits to the dentist, your children can learn the importance of brushing. But in the meantime, you need ways to ensure your children are brushing their teeth.

Here are six easy ways to get your kids to brush their teeth without the fight and with lots of fun.


1. Be a Great Role Model

Your kids do as you do.

If every morning and evening you loudly announce, “Well, time to brush my teeth to make sure my smile is happy!” your kids are going to notice. By being consistent with your own oral hygiene, your kids will notice and want to imitate their caregivers.


2. Create a Story

Almost as soon as they start talking, your children will start asking, “Why?” They’ll no doubt ask why they should be brushing their teeth.

By building a story around the act, you’re both making it more interesting and giving them a reason to brush. It doesn’t have to be complicated, either—“We have to brush away the sugar bugs, so they don’t make holes in our teeth!” Try incorporating tooth brushing into bedtime stories, too. Knowing their favourite hero makes sure to brush before bed is a big incentive to do the same.


3. Seeing Is Believing

If your kids are still unconvinced, try showing them just how important—and effective—brushing is. Talk to your local dentist about a product you can get that shows the plaque on your teeth. Then demonstrate either on yourself or with your child how much plaque disappears by simply brushing. (This also doubles as an interesting game you can play.)


4. Bubble Competitions

Kids love bubbles, and they love making a mess. You can combine the two into a fun game that encourages brushing. Put the toothpaste on their brushes and yours, and then explain the goal is to make lots of bubbles in their mouths. This will encourage brushing, create a friendly game to play, and the best part—when we’re done, we get to spit it in the sink! (Your kids will love the chance to be gross.)


5. Let Your Kids Choose

The act of brushing their teeth is not up for question—but the tools your kids use are! Take your kids along to the drug store and let them pick out their own toothbrushes. It may not seem like much to you, but having a Minion or a superhero on their brushes, ones that they were able to choose, creates a sense of ownership over the brush—and an urge to use it.


6. Stickers!

A great trick for young children is to hang a calendar up next to the sink. Every time your children brush, they get a sticker put up on that day. Let them peel the sticker off and place it. Then you have a great example of their commitment to brushing they can be proud of. Add a second set of stickers for flossing and your child will be on the way to great oral hygiene.

Though it may be a struggle now, with a little bit of creativity, your children will take control of their own oral hygiene in no time.


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Dr. Saleh Al-Daghreer

Dr. Saleh Al-Daghreer, BDS, PhD, FRCD (C), an Edmonton Orthodontist who is a registered specialist and a fellow of the Canadian Royal College of Dentists of Canada in the specialty of orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. He received his undergraduate degree in Dentistry in 2003 and his PhD in Orthodontics in 2012 from the University of Alberta. He founded City Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry to provide care in the City of Edmonton.

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