How to Make Flossing and Brushing Fun for Kids at Home
Schools and daycare are closed in most places right now. For a lot of parents, that means life is even more hectic than usual! But spending more time at home also gives you a chance to help your child develop healthy habits, like flossing and brushing every day.
Here are some fun things you can do with your child to unleash the power of oral health habits.
Brush brushy brush twice a day.
- When to start: As soon as that first tooth pops through.
- What to do: Help your child brush until he’s about 8 years old. Do it twice a day for two minutes each time. Hold a soft-bristled brush at an angle where the gum meets the tooth and brush in small circles. Little ones younger than 3 need just a tiny, rice-size amount of fluoride toothpaste. Older kids need a dab about the size of a pea.
- How to make it a habit: Try to find ways to help your child look forward to brushing. For example, you might play some favorite tunes! Choose songs that last as long as your kids should brush, around 2 minutes. (Check out a collection of songs here). You can also make it a family tooth brushing party. When you join in, it can make brushing more fun and help them learn by watching you. Or let your child play the parent — brush your child’s teeth and then let them practice brushing yours (with separate toothbrushes of course)!
Floss out the gunk daily.
- When to start: As soon as your child’s teeth touch, gunk can get trapped and create cavities — it’s time to start flossing.
- What to do: Wrap the floss around your index fingers — leaving only an inch or two between them — and slide the floss between their teeth. Hug the floss around the tooth at the gum line in a C-shape, moving it up and down to make sure you’re cleaning both sides of the tooth. You do it for them at first, then let them take over and do it for themselves — helping them out until your child is about 8 years old.
- How to make it a habit: Remind your child that flossing gets rid of the yucky gunk that a toothbrush can’t reach. If your child has trouble staying still at first, try giving them a fun distraction. Let them watch a video or sing them a song to take their mind off the flossing and associate this time with a special treat.
Drink tap water for thirst.
- When to start: As soon as your child can hold a sippy cup, water is the best thirst quencher. And unlike sugary drinks and even milk, it doesn’t cause cavities.
- What to do: If you put your toddler to bed with a bottle, try skipping the sweet stuff (including milk) and instead fill a bottle with water. If you have a child old enough to ask for sugary drinks, here are some tips on making the switch:
- Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator. Lots of kids think water tastes better cold.
- Let your child pick out a refillable water bottle that they will be excited to use.
- Add fresh or frozen fruit (like lemons, berries or melons) to water for natural flavor.
- How to make it a habit: Make water the easiest thing to drink in your home. Remind your child that tap water, especially fluoridated water, keeps teeth clean and strong.
Visit the dentist every year.
- When to start: Your child should get a screening from the dentist or doctor by his 1st birthday — and then at least once a year after that. Annual dental checkups help keep your child healthy.
- What to do: Finding a dentist near you can be hard – but we are here to make it easier. DentistLink can help connect you to a dentist that takes your insurance (including Apple Health) today!
- How to make it a habit: Once you go to that first appointment, go ahead and schedule the next checkup while you’re there. It’s one less thing you’ll need to worry about!