The bedtime routine can be challenging when dealing with small children. It’s hard to get them to settle down and focus on the job at hand – especially when that job is brushing & flossing.
So how can a parent make sure to make tooth-brushing a priority every single night?
Develop a Regular Routine
Kids thrive on routine. They like to know what’s coming next. Make bedtime a relaxing time filled with quiet rituals.
First set a definite time for bed. Not 8 to 9 p.m., but 8 o’clock sharp (or whatever time you choose). Don’t deviate from that time, unless it is necessary. If your child must be in bed by 8 p.m., then you should begin nighttime rituals at 7. Most experts agree that it takes a child about an hour to get in the mood for bed.
Be sure to do your set rituals in the same order every night. For instance, begin with a light snack, take a bath, get the pajamas on, brush the teeth and read a story together. Once a child knows that it’s time to brush their teeth every night after the PJ’s are put on, it will become an ingrained habit that happens automatically without even a reminder.
Make Brushing Fun
Giving your child an electric toothbrush or a sparkly toothpaste is a good way to entice him or her to brush. The most important thing is finding what gets your child to brush so the routine can be established and maintained.
Here are a few simple ways to make tooth brushing every night more memorable:
- Have a brushing contest. Stand next to your child and see who can brush the longest. The goal is to brush for two minutes. This ensures thorough cleaning of the teeth and gives the fluoride enough time to help remineralize the enamel.
- Use disclosing tablets or a disclosing mouth rinse. Kids love to see what a good job they’ve done. Disclosing mouth rinse or tablets color the plaque which shows areas where they may have missed while brushing.
- Award good behavior. Brushing is a behavior that deserves reward. A sticker system is a great idea to motivate the little ones to brush and floss. Every time the child brushes without a hassle or without being told when it’s time to brush, place a sticker on the chart. You decide how many stickers it takes to earn a small reward.
- Let them gargle. If your children are old enough, purchase some children’s mouthwash and let them finish their evening brushing with a good rinse and gargle.
Offer Lots of Praise
If there is one thing every kid loves it is praise. Be sure to give loads of praise for a job well done.
Bedtime brushing and flossing should never be an afterthought. If you as the parent make it a priority, so will your children –and that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.