It’s frustrating isn’t it? Your kids won’t brush. And yet, how else are they supposed to get those teeth pearly white? If you’re having trouble motivating your child, here’s how to reinforce good oral hygiene.

Introduce The Tooth Fairy Early On: Kids will start losing their milk teeth (baby teeth) starting around age 6. But, before this happens, you can teach them about the Tooth Fairy and let them know about good oral health. You can instill good brushing habits in them to keep their teeth happy, and the Tooth Fairy happy, too.

Use this as an opportunity to brush up on your child’s everyday dental and cleaning routine. A lot of kids struggle with flossing and brushing. It’s, quite frankly, a boring activity and something a lot of children want to avoid.

If your kids don’t want to floss, remind them that the Tooth Fairy is only looking for healthy baby teeth and not teeth with cavities. This might help your children get excited about a visit, but more importantly, it may help them feel more motivated to take care of their teeth.

You could also periodically leave a note reinforcing good dental and oral hygiene habits. A personalized note from the Tooth Fairy herself could be just about as exciting as a gift of money. You could include tips like how to floss, and the importance of flossing every day. You could also leave a note about how important it is to visit the dentist every 6 months.

Even if your child doesn’t really understand how long 6 months is, merely suggesting that a dentist visit is a good idea and that it’s something they need to do may get them excited about it.

Give Oral Health Gifts: You can also make it a point to give your child periodic oral health gifts, in the name of “you-know-who.” Order from Makaboo.com. You could send a stuffed doll that looks like the Tooth Fairy, or a plush tooth toy that will be a constant reminder to your child that he or she must take good care of their teeth.

And, while traditionally, the Tooth Fairy leaves cash for kids, in most homes she also left toys in exchange for teeth. Some children received gum or other gifts. Just make sure if you leave gum that it’s sugar-free.

Consider skipping the cash and reinforcing good habits by giving your kids a new toothbrush with their favorite cartoon character or fun-flavored toothpaste.

You could also get them a new book, pay for a day-pass at their favorite amusement park, or think of something else that they may enjoy. For example, maybe the Tooth Fairy leaves them a coupon for food at their favorite restaurant.

You can also give them one of several children’s books about the Tooth Fairy and her adventures. In the old days, you used to have to worry about losing the teeth that were left under the pillow. Today, there are special pillows with pockets attached that can hold the teeth so they don’t get lost.

You can even customize these pillows, or a pillowcase, with your child’s name.

Setting A Good Example: If you’re to set a good example, you have to be the example. Cut out foods from your daily diet that are cavity-promoting.

For example, you should reduce or stop eating and drinking sugary drinks, starchy carbohydrates that are drenched in sugar or sweeteners, and other acidic foods. Acidic foods, as well as sugary foods, erode your enamel because the acid eats away at it.

In the case of sugary foods, bacteria in your mouth consume the sugar and then produce acid as a waste product. This acid then erodes your tooth enamel slowly over time. This, in turn, can begin the process of cavity formation and the loss of teeth.

Some examples of such foods include:

  • Soda/pop
  • Sugary or sweet drinks
  • White bread
  • Sugar in any form
  • Junk food (chips, pretzels, and other snack foods)
  • Acidic foods and drinks like lemons, limes, and oranges
  • Hard candies
  • Soft candies
  • Chocolate
  • Sugary cereals
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol

Conclusion: The Tooth Fairy is a fictional character that’s part of growing up. We’ve all probably experienced it when we were kids. And, we all remember the excitement of getting money under our pillow. Today, that tradition can be kept alive, if you want it to be. Just make sure that, underneath the toys and money, are positive messages about good oral hygiene. Your kids will thank you when they get older.

Leo Collins is at dental school, and as an Uncle to his 5 nieces and nephews has taken a keen interest in the kids oral hygiene. He hopes to become a qualified pediatric dentist in the not too distant future. In the meantime he writes articles for health and parenting blogs in his free time.