It’s National Smile Month again, this year running from 18 May to 18 June, the Oral Health Foundation’s annual campaign to promote good oral health.
In normal years, the campaign targets dental and health professionals, schools, pharmacies, community groups and workplaces to help educate, motivate and communicate positive oral health messages to the public. And what’s more, the aim is to have fun doing it!
Nothing is normal this year due to COVID-19, and so all activities are severely curtailed. However, the messages are as important as ever – particularly as, with dental practices closed, patients and parents need to take extra care to protect their and their children’s teeth.
Children can be resistant to brushing their teeth – they may think it’s boring and they can’t see the point – so it’s essential to find ways to make it fun and to start early.
It’s crucial to start an oral hygiene routine as early as possible (even before teeth appear). Once you start to clean their teeth and, importantly, when they begin to try to do this for themselves, always supervise them, but try and make it enjoyable. Here are some ideas to make brushing fun:
- Make it a family affair. Clean your teeth together. If you’re brave enough, let your child try to clean your teeth, but do it again yourself afterwards! They can also use an old toothbrush to brush their favourite doll or teddy’s teeth
- Set a routine. Brush before bed and in the morning at the same time every day so that it becomes a natural part of the daily routine
- Let your child choose. There are lots of fun, brightly coloured toothbrushes out there for children, some with Disney or other characters on. If their toothbrush features a favourite character, and they have chosen it themselves, children are more likely to want to use it. Flavour is important too. Many children don’t like the minty taste of most adult toothpastes, but BioMin® F for Kids is available in melon and strawberry flavours, which allows your child to choose the taste they prefer – and feel some control over the process
- Do it to music. You could pick a favourite song of about two minutes in length and play it while your child brushes their teeth. You can all dance along while you’re doing it. There are even apps for toothbrushing entertainment!
- If your child likes stories, you could tell a story while they brush, or encourage them to get involved with a character, perhaps the one on their toothbrush. BioMin F for Kids features a friendly dinosaur, Bino, who could be woven into a story at brushing time. You can also download Bino colouring sheets so your child can customise their own Bino
- Play games. If you have more than one child, you could introduce an element of competition into brushing – try using an egg timer or stopwatch on your phone to encourage them to brush for the full two minutes
- Reward them. This isn’t bribery, it’s an incentive for making good choices. Like a star chart, BioMin F for Kids has developed a brightly coloured, fun brushing chart, featuring Bino, to allow your child to record every time they brush their teeth, and colour in Bino’s favourite fruit each week. We’ll let you choose the appropriate reward if they need encouragement!
The most important thing is that brushing should not be a chore. If it’s brought into the regular routine, and has good associations and rewards, children will quickly develop good oral health habits for a lifetime.
BioMin® F for Kids is the only toothpaste accredited by the Oral Health Foundation for its remineralising effect, assuring users that its claims have been rigorously investigated and approved.