In the eyes of a child, brushing teeth generally falls low on the priority list. They are more worried about kick ball and Barbies than cavities.

But by the age of five, about half of children have cavities. In America, oral disease causes kids to miss 51 million school hours annually, according to

Here are some things parents can do to get their kids excited about brushing teeth:

1.      Set an example

Instead of just nagging your children to brush their teeth, brush your own teeth with them. Kids have a tendency to copy their parents, so give them something to copy.

2.      Make brushing funny

When children are just staring at themselves in the mirror while brushing, it gets child brushingboring and they usually stop before teeth have been sufficiently cleaned. One mom makes up names for each tooth in her kids’ mouths, and asks about each by name when the kids brush. Another idea is to tell fictional stories about toothpaste knights defeating the plaque monsters. Or you can have a toothbrush sword fight. Get creative.

3.      Play a two minute cartoon

Kids should brush for two minutes, two times a day, according to national pediatric dental organizations. A national pediatric dentistry campaign has provided two minute cartoon clips to help kids go the distance when brushing.

4.      Don’t underestimate cool brushes

Find your child a toothbrush that he can be proud of. Blinking lights, action figures and bright colors can make a child more likely to grab the brush with a smile, rather than with dread. Likewise, don’t underestimate cool toothpaste and toothpaste tubes. Attention grabbing colors and the right flavor can help a child brush more readily. Don’t sacrifice quality for coolness, of course.

5.      Consistency

Kids need to know that brushing teeth is just what one does two times a day. Missing a day can put ideas into a child’s head, so be consistent. This means that you should start early, brushing the child’s teeth for him. Parents should help their kids brush until they are eight, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. And of course, consistency means a healthier mouth, and fewer trips to the dentist.

6.      Tell stories about dental pains you’ve had

‘When I was younger, I had to get a root canal, because I didn’t brush enough. Do you know what a root canal is?’ Dentist horror stories can often make a child go wide-eyed, and make a lasting impression. Make sure to use this option carefully, as you don’t want to make them afraid to go to the dentist.

Learn More About Pediatric Dentistry in Utah.

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