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It can be tough to get children to practice simple dental care like brushing, flossing, and heading to the dentist for regular cleanings. Sometimes, it may feel impossible to prevent a tantrum over the simple request to “go brush your teeth.”

We work with youngsters all of the time here at Gladstone Family Dentistry, and we hear about the struggles many parents encounter when trying to get their children to follow a healthy lifestyle. It can be as hard as sleep training an infant!  

Instead of feeling like you have to give in to your child’s tantrum, here are some ideas for how you can make oral care fun!

Turn brushing into a race

Getting your kids to brush twice a day can be tough – but it can also be hard to get your young ones to brush their teeth long enough and thoroughly enough for the brushing to be effective. That’s why we have turned brushing teeth into a marathon. Here’s how you play:

a. Create competitors by either brushing with your child or having your children race each other.

b. Set a timer that begins when the contestants start to brush. Whoever can brush the longest (minimally for two minutes), wins the game.

You can make this into a longer term race if you want by adding a scoreboard. On the board, you have two slots for each day of the week. Add every player’s brushing times for each day into each slot. Whoever has brushed the longest in total, wins the week!  

Families that floss together have lower dental bills

Flossing is probably one of the hardest things to get children to do, but it’s extremely important. Here are a few ideas that you can use to get your kids into the habit of flossing:

  1. Floss as a family. Kids are more likely to do activities if they see their parents doing them. So, floss with your children, showing them how you get between every tooth. It might sound gross, but kids can become fascinated by the bits stuck between your teeth – and will begin to search for what’s hiding between their teeth.
  2. If you’re playing the brushing game, give out bonus points for flossing once daily. At the end of the week, be sure to reward the person who flossed every day – as well as the longest brusher.
  3. Ask your children to help you pick out their dental products. A toothbrush or roll of floss that display a fun movie character or favorite color is much more likely to get used and even loved than a boring old toothbrush or roll of plain, white floss.

The dentist isn’t scary!

We work with a lot of families here at Gladstone Family Dentistry, and we’ve found that most children are afraid of the dentist for two reasons:

  1. Their parents told them dental horror stories.
  2. The child has had a bad experience with a dentist in the past.

Luckily, we can help on both counts! Before you bring your youngster in for a dental cleaning or checkup, let us know if they have any anxiety about the dentist. Our goal here is to create a warm, safe, and welcoming environment for all of our patients, and we will make an extra effort for your little one.

If your child has extreme anxiety about coming here, we can also explore options like sedation dentistry.

You can also help make your child’s visit to the dentist an enjoyable one. Share good dental stories with your child, talk to them about any fears they may have before they come in, and reward your young one for being brave at the dentist’s office.

We know that having work done, even work as minor as a routine dental cleaning, can cause anxiety in people of all ages. That’s why we work hard to create a peaceful, calm, and pain-free environment here at Gladstone Family Dentistry. Give us a call today and let us know if you or your child have any special needs for your next visit. We are happy to accommodate you!