So how should parents get their kids brushing their teeth regularly?
Modelling good behaviour is one of the best ways to get your kids excited about brushing their teeth instead of thinking it's a chore. When you brush your teeth, be happy that you're doing it. If you make it look like fun, the kids will want to do it too. Let them copy you. Buy them the same colour toothbrush as you have, or try an electric one, which may be more entertaining for them. Let them try brushing your teeth and then you can brush theirs to make sure they're actually clean.
Getting your kids brushing their teeth correctly is vital for good oral hygiene. According to dental hygienist Kim Czerwonka and her fellow hygienists at Dr. Todd S. Sheppard Dentistry in Calgary, there are a number of ways to encourage kids to brush, and to do so effectively.
1. Give them a good story
"We talk about why we need to brush – how the sugar bugs make holes in our teeth if we don't brush them away," she explains. Sometimes kids need a reason or a good story to get on board.
If they're still unconvinced, you can try using a dissolving agent, available at pharmacists' counters and dental offices, to clearly show them the plaque on their teeth. "They just chew them and the pink shows them where the plaque is to prove that brushing makes a difference," says Czerwonka.
3. Brush like train wheels
She also recommends likening their brush strokes to train wheels. "Having kids think of the wheels of a choo-choo train helps them to brush correctly," Czerwonka says. "They should use big circles in a massaging stroke – round and round instead of back and forth or scrubbing."
4. Make bubbles
"Also encourage them to create lots of bubbles – that means they're brushing well," she says. You could hold a bubble-making contest with your kids to see who can create the most bubbles.