If you’ve ever found yourself chasing your child up and down the landing, brandishing their toothbrush and pleading with them to brush their teeth, then you’re not alone. Kids not brushing teeth is a common problem.
A recent report revealed that almost half of all parents have to force children up to 11 years of age, to brush their teeth. 80% of those youngsters throw tantrums as they do so.
1 in 10 parents reported being so fed up and demoralised by the daily brush-time battle, that they end up giving in completely and send their children to bed without cleaning their teeth at all.
Coaxing, pleading and chasing toothbrush dodgers, can make getting your child to brush their teeth a daily battle.
Instead try these 11 games to inject some fun back into brushtime.
Boogie while you brush
It takes at least two minutes to brush teeth thoroughly.
To make the time pass more quickly and make tooth brushing fun download an app, such as the award winning Brush DJ.
This nifty app plays two-minute songs for your child to listen to as they brush. Many are up-tempo and will get them grooving as they brush.
They even have Baby Shark on their playlist in line with popular demand, (a song that’s almost impossible to get out of your head afterwards).
It might drive you crazy but if it gets your kids brushing then it’s worth it!
Brush with your child
Monkey see, monkey do! If your child sees you brushing your gnashers they are more likely to copy and do the same.
If you brush together you can also demonstrate the best ways to brush. It’s all in the name of instilling good brushing habits.
Play ‘guess the song’
Another way to stretch out brushing time is to brush your own teeth and, at the same time, hum or sing a song.
Your child then has to guess which song it is. You swap roles and let them sing as they brush, while you guess.
Before you know it, more than the required two minutes will have flown by and you can rest assured your child has brushed thoroughly, while being distracted by the game.
Buy an all-singing, all-dancing toothbrush
There are so many toothbrushes you can buy that will appeal to kids.
Whether it’s a simple manual brush with their favourite TV character on it, or a brush that lights up and flashes for 2 minutes.
A more exciting toothbrush can help make brushing teeth more fun and less of a chore.
Pick the right toothpaste
Some children hate the taste of mint and will screw their noses up when you encourage them to brush with a minty paste.
There are loads of different flavours of kids toothpaste available. It’s worth trying them to see if a different flavoured paste sweetens the whole tooth brushing experience.
Let them brush Daddy’s teeth
Younger children sometimes don’t like letting adults brush their teeth for them.
This can be worrying as, up to a certain age, we need to do a bit of brushing for them to make sure they have brushed their teeth properly.
One way around this is to make it a game of ‘I’ll brush your teeth if you brush mine‘ and let them brush your teeth for you.
It’s great practice for kids to use you as a model and it means that you can also do a bit of brushing for them, making sure all their teeth have been cleaned.
You could even let them practice tooth brushing on a cherished soft toy or doll and use them as props to encourage good dental hygiene.
Your child can ‘brush’ their toys’ teeth and then their own.
And don’t forget Rover
If you have a dog you have a perfect teaching opportunity to explain why brushing teeth is so important.
Put your child in charge of helping you with brushing Rover’s pearly whites and talk about how fresh and clean his mouth will be and how it might avoid any trips to the vet for dentistry.
You can buy doggy toothbrushes and meat flavoured toothpaste for your pooch!
Stickers for sparkly teeth
Let’s face it – tooth brushing can be a bit of a chore. Try using a reward chart as a powerful motivator to get through brush times.
Kids will do almost anything for the reward of a shiny sticker. When they have got a certain number of stickers they could earn a small prize.
You would be motivating them in a positive way and rewarding their toothbrushing efforts.
Books work better than nagging
Reading books that have a message about the importance of dental hygiene can work much better than parental nagging.
We love books such as Open Wide, What’s Inside? by Alex Rushworth, for younger kids and Give us a Smile Cinderella by Steve Smallman for older kids.
Both are great for encouraging children to reach for their toothbrushes.
Turn tooth brushing into an epic story
You can also make up your own stories to spread the message about good dental hygiene.
It might centre round some evil plaque gremlins who are on a mission to destroy planet Smile. The only way to defeat this army is to fly on the super duper Brushmus 2000 and sweep them away.
Suddenly brush time sounds much more fun. Act out the adventure with your child as they brush away all the plaque gremlins.
With a captivating story behind it, tooth brushing becomes less of a chore and more of an adventure.
Enlist the help of the tooth fairy
You can be a little creative and get the tooth fairy on your side to encourage your little monsters to brush their teeth.
A little letter left on the pillow praising shiny teeth and reminding your child to keep up the good work, can work wonders when it comes to bringing a bit of magic back to brush time.
Why it’s worth winning the tooth brushing battle
A survey in 2015 revealed that half of all 8 year olds and a third of 5 year olds have fillings or missing teeth because of decay.
Teaching good dental hygiene and making sure that your child brushes their teeth twice a day is the best way of preventing plaque build-up and cavities.
It’s definitely worth trying new ways to get your children to brush their teeth and brush them well, to take care of their teeth and make the most of their beautiful smiles