Ah, the many responsibilities of parenting: making sure your kids eat right, sleep right, play right …and brush their teeth! Getting children to brush their teeth is recognized as a common challenge for parents around the globe. How do you inspire a child to stand still and brush for the recommended two minutes? While it can be tempting to cave in and allow your child to get by with a mere twenty or thirty seconds of half-hearted brushing (punctuated by fidgeting or fussing), do not despair. There are many ways to make brushing not only tolerable but also fun for the little ones. If your child could chat with the Tooth Fairy about dental care, the conversation might go something like this.
6-year-old Chloe: Hi, Tooth Fairy! Why do I need to brush my teeth? It’s not very fun!
Tooth Fairy: Hi, Chloe. Brushing your teeth is really important. You know when you chew something tough, like a piece of meat, or something really hard, like a piece of candy, how your teeth are always harder than what you’re chewing? Well, if you don’t brush your teeth, someday they won’t be so hard anymore. They can even crack and break or get soft and change colors on the inside! You have to keep brushing your teeth every day to make sure they stay clean and hard so that you can chew your food.
Chloe: Wow! I don’t want broken or colored teeth. But…I still wish brushing wasn’t so boring. Can we make it fun?
TF: You bet! What kind of toothbrush do you use, Chloe?
Chloe: I dunno. It’s blue. I don’t like it.
TF: If you don’t like it, how about a Barbie toothbrush? It even spins on its own and does most of the hard work for you.
Chloe: Oooh! Pink is my favorite. But…I don’t think my brother would like that one. He doesn’t like pink.
TF: Chloe, do you like the way your toothpaste tastes?
Chloe: Ewww, no. I hate peppermint.
Chloe: Watermelon, please!
TF: Okay! And while we’re at it, let’s play some tooth-brushing games. Does your mom have a smartphone or an iPad?
Chloe: Yes, she does.
TF: Great! Let’s look at some apps that can help make brushing your teeth a little more exciting for you.
Macleans Nurdle Durdles
This app, Nurdle Time, features Milky, Lilly, and Billy, three characters who help to make brushing more interesting for curious, playful kids. The characters play a song and time the child for two minutes as he brushes his teeth. Every time a child completes the two-minute brushing time, he or she is awarded “Nurdle Stars” – points that can be used in a virtual store to create a Nurdle character for the child.
Available for Apple devices, this app is great for younger kids. It features a timer and progress bar, an amusing brushing sound, and various funny faces to keep kids engaged. A toothbrush icon shows the child which areas to brush.
Brush with Jackson
Originating in Scotland, the Brush with Jackson app gives kids a lovable tooth-brushing companion. Jackson not only helps children to brush their teeth for the required time, but he also playfully interacts with them; repeating things the child says, giggling and squealing when tickled or poked in the tummy, winking his eye, and twitching his nose. Tooth brushing becomes lots more fun with a brushing buddy!
- License: Creative Commons image source
Chris Turberville-Tully works with Dental Implants Harley Street, http://www.dentalimplantsharleystreet.co.uk, a dental clinic specializing in implants from crowns to bridges.