You know how important brushing is in reducing the risks of developing gum disease and tooth decay. However, if you have a child, you know the struggle of getting him or her to the bathroom to perform this essential daily task. Here at National Dental Sunnyside, we want to help your child learn good habits for optimal oral health. Here are a few suggestions to help your child get motivated to brush.


When you go to the pharmacy to pick out your toothbrush, you probably don’t spend too much time on it. You most likely look for a toothbrush with soft bristles. Maybe you have a specific brand or type of brush. However, you don’t pay much attention to the color. If you look at the toothbrushes for kids, you will quickly notice that there are several bright colors and cartoon characters. You could pick out one that you know is your child’s favorite color or their favorite character from their favorite show, but they still might not use the brush. Instead, bring your child with you and let them pick out their toothbrush. Because they picked it out themselves, they will be more likely to use it. Just make sure that whatever toothbrush they choose, it has a small head and soft bristles.


Just like you, your child should be brushing twice a day, two minutes each time. However, for a child, those two minutes can feel like an eternity. They are likely to rush through their brushing to get back to other, more fun, activities. Rather than having your child stare at a clock, add some music to their routine. You can find lyrics to brushing songs, which are often sung in tune with other popular kids tunes. Alternatively, you can download an app on your phone.


If your kid likes to read or be read to, a book about brushing can be quite effective. There are several available, all with fun characters and easy to follow stories. They tell of the importance of brushing, and the proper brushing techniques. To get your child motivated, break one of these books out and have story time before your child goes to brush their teeth.


What kid doesn’t like stickers? Try a sticker reward chart. Every time your child brushes their teeth, they get to add a sticker to the chart. At the end of a successful week, you can offer your child a prize. You don’t have to offer something tangible. Let your child pick the next movie for family movie night or the next game for game night. You may even consider letting your child hold on to their rewards and trade them in at the end of a successful month for a family trip to the local zoo or aquarium.


Your child pays attention to everything you do, even if it doesn’t always seem like it. If they see you brushing your teeth regularly, they are more likely to find it a normal daily habit. Still, it can be boring for a child to brush alone. So, brush together. Show your child how much toothpaste to apply. Let them watch you as you brush your teeth so they can mimic your movements. Younger children may need you to go back over their teeth a second time, but your child will feel very accomplished having done it themselves at first. Your child can typically begin to brush by themselves by the age of 6 or 7, but you should continue to monitor them, at least from a distance, until the age of 11.

Fostering good brushing habits now will help to set your child up for a lifetime of good oral health. For more tips or information, call National Dental Sunnyside today at (718) 925-3365.