Getting kids to brush their teeth can be a challenge. Sometimes developing good oral hygiene habits is as tough on the parents as it is on the kids! If you’re struggling to make brushing fun for your children, here are some good ways to encourage your kids to brush without using sugary treats.

Make a Dental Star Chart

Is your child a dental star? Create a chart. This can be as simple as a grid on a piece of paper, or it can be as creative as a cardboard set of teeth. Every time your child willingly brushes his or her teeth, he or she gets a sticker on the chart. How many stickers it takes to fill the chart is up to you. Once the chart is full, let the child choose from a novelty toy stash, pick a flavor of frozen yogurt from your local stand, or go on a fun trip to the zoo or park. For better results, reserve a special place or special toy stash only for use when the dental star chart is full. This way, your child associates diligent brushing with specific, special fun.

Make Brushing a Game

Kids are more willing to brush if it’s a game, not a chore. It takes about 2 minutes for your child to thoroughly brush all the surfaces of his or her teeth. Set a timer and dance with your child as he or she brushes up and down and from side to side. Make it a game to brush all the way in the back of the mouth. Your family dentist can recommend a toothpaste that has a fun flavor as a greater incentive to brush twice a day, every day.

Reward Every Try

According to professionals, it’s normal and age-appropriate for young children to dislike brushing and occasionally have a meltdown. If this happens, don’t get upset. Firmly insist that the teeth are brushed, then let it go. Next time, if the child even tries to brush his or her teeth without a fight, give a reward. This can be a sticker, a sugar-free fruit snack, a special story, or even just high praise from mom and dad. Sometimes, little rewards make all the difference in getting a child to develop good oral hygiene habits.


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