Dental Advice

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Winter 2013: Eight Ideas to Make Brushing Easy and Fun

Does tooth brushing time feel like a minty-fresh form of torture at your house? If your New Year’s resolutions include getting the kids to brush their teeth, check out our tips to make taking care of those little grins easier for everyone involved.


1 | Use a timer

Whether it’s an hourglass-style sand timer from your dentist, a stop watch or a kitchen timer, set it for two minutes to help make sure that everyone (even mom and dad) is brushing long enough.

2 | Stick ‘em up

Just like potty training, tooth brushing training is often easier when there’s something to show for it. A chart with stickers to track when brushing and flossing are completed is a great way to help form good habits and make dental care part of both the morning and nighttime routine. Make your own, or download one here:

 3 | Get the gear

Sometimes motivating kids is as simple as using a fun flavor of toothpaste, brightly colored floss picks or a toothbrush that features their favorite character (or lights up, or plays music). Our own kids were so motivated to get to use electric toothbrushes that they kept the bathroom clean for a week to earn them!

4 | Become a tooth spy

Try Disclose tablets or a tinted mouthwash (secret agent tools) that reveal the “undercover” areas in your child’s mouth that are still dirty after they have brushed. Discuss ways to improve tooth brushing methods to prevent dirty-tooth secrets!

5 | Make it a Family Affair

Brushing your teeth alongside your kids models good habits for them. Don’t forget to floss, too!

6 | Don the Décor

Add a nice reminder and a little pop to your bathroom décor all at the same time! Download and frame this free printable that says, “You Don’t Have to Brush All Your Teeth…Just the Ones You Want to Keep.”

7 | Create a learning moment

Practice flossing by pushing pieces of Play Dough between the circles on the top of a large Duplo block and using yarn as floss. Or, demonstrate the need to prevent cavities by cutting a small hole (a cavity) in an apple (the tooth). Place it in a brown bag (the mouth) and set it on the windowsill. See what happens to it after one day, two days, and so on.

8 | Schedule regular checkups

Dental care professionals usually spend a good portion of a pediatric dental exam talking to their young patients about their oral hygiene habits and offering advice and instruction on what they should be doing to keep their teeth healthy. This can help reinforce what parents say at home and motivate kids to keep up with brushing and flossing so they don’t disappoint their dentist at their next visit.

Practicing good oral health care habits with your kids as they grow will ensure that they take good care of their teeth as they become more independent. Kids are generally able to start brushing their own teeth (with supervision) at around five years old and can do their own flossing around eight years old.

Dr. Craig Rechkemmer
About author:

‘Dr. Craig’ Rechkemmer earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degrees from the University of Missouri, Kansas City in May 2002. He spent six years on the Tooth Truck providing dental care to at-risk children in the Springfield area. In 2008, Dr. Craig joined the Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock where he created a state-wide Dental Outreach program and provided care to children of all needs and abilities. After four years with the Children’s Hospital, he has returned to Springfield to create Little Grins Dental, where he will continue to provide care to children in a warm and friendly environment.

View all posts by Dr. Craig Rechkemmer