Teaching Children The Best Dental Habits


While they might be crooked, most kids are start out with healthy, cavity-free teeth — that is until they start eating and expose those pearly whites to sugar, sugar and more sugar. According to the Center for Disease Control, 20 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 11 have at least one decayed tooth. Because of the early onslaught of cavities, it’s important to teach children good dental habits when they are young.

Another good reason to start young is the fact that children have a way of soaking up knowledge so quickly! Their bright little minds are unencumbered by the stress and anxiety that adults face. Whether it’s good manners, health and wellness, or cleanliness, you can’t wait until the teenage years to instill good habits.

So what is the best way to get kids excited about clean teeth? Tap into their natural curiosities, make things fun, be patient and have a strategy. Here are a few ideas.

1. Story Time Success

Kids are a suckers for storytime. So instead of a lecture, tell them a story of good vs. evil: the evil sugar bugs trying to give them cavities versus the the toothbrush soldier trying to defend his territory.

2. The 2-Minute Rule

For toothbrushing to truly be effective, it needs to be at least two minutes, twice a day. Help you kids get to the two-minute mark with a fun timer or playing their favorite song. There are even YouTube videos you can play for your kids to help the time fly by. We love this list from the American Dental Association.

3. Pick a Delightful Dentist

Having a good experience at the dentist’s office is key to making kids receptive to proper oral health habits. Make sure you find a dentist who listens to your little one and makes them feel comfortable. And keep your visits regular, the more common and predictable the experience is for your child the better.

4. Presents & Prizes

Ok so this might bordering on bribery, but if you want kids to do something you need to give them a little motivation right? Buying some dental “presents” like a Disney character toothbrush or some Bubblemint toothpaste can go a long way. And don’t forget about sticker charts! Let your child put a sticker on their chart each day that they brush and floss and then when the chart is full take them to the store to buy a toy. Give them an extra sticker if they do the job without any whining.

5. Details Are a Do!

Make sure to explain to your child how much toothpaste to use (most experts recommends a pea-sized amount) and that they need to rinse their mouth completely afterward. While these details might seem obvious to us, they are necessary for children. Flossing is even trickier to teach, practice makes perfect. Floss your teeth with your children every night encouraging them and directing them until they are doing it correctly on their own. The ADA says that most children should be able to brush their teeth on their own around 6 and at age 10 they should be able to floss independently. While the process might not be fun, the payoff is worth it.

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