Dentists typically recommend parents brush their kids' teeth for them until about age 6. Then it's time to start teaching your child how to brush, floss and rinse his or her own teeth (and teach them why they should) to prevent cavities and painful trips to the dentist. Here are some popular tricks parents use to motivate their children.
TRICK #1: Get Fancy, Fun Brushes and Kid-Friendly Rinse Flavors
Let your child pick out his or her own toothbrush and rinse at the store, as well as toothpaste. These days you can find all sorts of kid-friendly brushes in bright colors and covered with favorite movie and television-show characters.
TRICK #2: Sing A Song
Play a fun game where you sing the song your child selects while they brush, floss and rinse. The only catch is they have to keep up with the routine the whole time. If they can, encourage them to hum along with their mouth full of bubbles (which is sure to prompt those precious little giggles). If your child is into sports, you can use a stopwatch instead of a song, and make it a competition to see if they can keep brushing until the stopwatch goes off.
TRICK #3: Calendar Games
Reward them with an enticing prize. Turn it into a contest so that the length of time of consecutive brushing earns your child a bigger prize. Give your child a toy they really want after 14 days of twice-daily brushing and rinsing. Hang a calendar at your child's height in the bathroom and allow him to stick a gold star on each day he successfully brushes and rinses in the morning and at night.
TRICK #4: Tell a Tooth Story
Explain why it is important to brush and make animated motions when describing the sugar bugs that can make holes in our teeth if we don't wash and rinse them away. Add fun characters like a pretend fairy princess who looks like a sparkling tooth and a made-up mean Mr. Bacteria bad guy. After you have told the story a few times, ask your child to tell the story some nights. Ask questions about the characters and ask your child what they sound like, encouraging them to add sound effects.