“But Mom, I’m too tired to brush tonight!” No, you aren’t the only busy parent tackling this challenge tonight; this scene is common in households all over Virginia at bedtime.
Here are some tips for helping incorporate brushing and flossing into your families normal bedtime routine. These have been suggested from our own patients and hopefully will help make bedtime a smoother, more fun process for you and your family!
1. Use the 3 B’s Every Night: Bath, Brush, Book
By doing things in the same order each night, you help establish a routine that takes the guessing (and hopefully some of the negotiating) out of bedtime. Try to save the “Book” for last to help motivate even the most reluctant brusher.
2. This or That?
It’s no secret, kids love making decisions so try to offer them decisions they can make. Brushing and flossing are not optional but there are plenty of options you can offer them, such as:
- Which toothpaste should they use tonight? (Our caveat is that the toothpaste should contain the ADA Seal of Approval, check out Dr. Liz’s blog on helping your child pick the best toothpaste (https://rpdo.com/blog/best-toothpaste-for-children/)
- What color toothbrush should they use?
- Which bathroom should they brush in tonight?
3. For the Love of Stickers
Consider using a Bedtime Routine Chart to help teach your child responsibility. You can customize the chart with anything that helps make your bedtime process go smoother but make sure brushing and flossing are included! Make it more fun by using a special, favorite colored marker or stickers to check off each task as your child completes it. Consider offering a treat or prize, like a trip to the library or a favorite place, when your child achieves a desired number of tasks completed.
Check out this sample chart at kidsactivitiesblog.com for some tips on creating a chart that might work for your family.
4. Make Brushing Interactive
If we’ve learned anything working with our patients everyday, it’s that kids love to be involved in the process. Anything you can do to try to make brushing more fun will help make your kids more excited about doing it.
- Brush your teeth while your children are brushing theirs (If nothing else, your teeth will thank you for the extra brushing time).
- Play a favorite song (2 minute minimum) while brushing.
- Reward your child for a job well done brushing and flossing by “painting their teeth with the good stuff” afterward. Apply a fluoridated mouth-rinse to a Q-tip and paint their teeth with it. Have fun sampling different flavors and make sure your child doesn’t eat or drink anything afterward!