Proper tooth brushing for kids is a key way to prevent cavities and keep smiles healthy. While every kiddo is different, as Naperville pediatric dentists, we know that getting some children to brush their teeth at all can be a challenge, let alone getting them to brush for two full minutes.
So, why does the American Dental Association recommend brushing teeth for two minutes? Is it just an arbitrary number? No. Two minutes is how long it takes to address every surface of each tooth in the mouth to eliminate plaque, food debris and bacteria. In fact, a 2019 systematic review in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene found that when people brushed their teeth for two minutes they removed twice as much plaque as when they brushed for just one minute. As for how to actually get kids to reach the two-minute mark, teach them to use dental sealants or try out these fun strategies:
Download a Tooth Brushing Timer App for Kids
Put a tooth brushing timer app for kids on your phone that will alert your child when their time at the sink is up. It makes it more fun and helps hold them accountable. Most apps have other cool features too like brushing reminders and games. Not sure which one to go for? Here are a few of our favorites:
- Chomper Chums – Android and iOS – Chomper Chums is a tooth brushing timer app for kids by Concordia Dental. Not only does it have a timer for two minutes of brushing but little ones can also choose an animal character that helps them learn good brushing technique. Kids earn coins by doing different activities and practicing good oral hygiene.
- Brush DJ – Android and iOS – Brush DJ is a free app that was created by a dentist. It plays two minutes of music from your device, streaming service or cloud. You can even put together a kids’ tooth brushing playlist with their favorite songs. It also sends reminders to floss daily, brush twice a day and visit the dentist.
- Disney Magic Timer by Oral-B – Android and iOS – Another great tooth brushing timer app for kids is the Disney Magic Timer by Oral-B. The app features Disney, Marvel and Star Wars characters to help encourage children to brush longer. If you use certain Oral-B products, you can scan the barcodes to unlock stickers within the app.
Brush Teeth to a Two-Minute Song
Let’s face it, two minutes seems like an eternity to kids. Thankfully, there are quite a few two-minute songs to brush teeth to that will make the time fly by. If the song is slightly longer, you can always spend the final seconds having a dance party. Here are some ideas that come in around two minutes and are available on YouTube:
- “1234” – Feist (Sesame Street Version)
- “This is the Way We Brush Our Teeth” – Little Baby Bum
- “We Gotta be Clean” – Guster
- “Brush Your Teeth to This Song” – Andrew Huang – CBC Kids
- “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” – Randy Newman
- “Mercedes Benz” – Janis Joplin
- “Kids Just Love to Brush” – Sesame Street
- “We’re Going to be Friends” – The White Stripes or the Jack Johnson Cover
Break Out the Sticker Chart
Make or print out a tooth brushing sticker chart. Every time kids brush their teeth for two full minutes, they get to put a sticker on their chart. Choose a goal and when they reach it, give them a reward. It could be anything from a trip to the park or choosing the game for family game night. As any parent can attest, positive reinforcement can go a long way!
Play a Game
No one said preventing tooth decay in kids had to be boring! You can turn teeth brushing into a game that lasts two minutes. One great idea is to play Copycat. Set a timer for 30 seconds and have them focus on one quadrant of their mouth. When the timer dings, make a silly face in the mirror that they have to copy. Repeat the process with all four quadrants. Aside from just being goofy and entertaining, breaking up the two minutes can make it seem like the time goes faster.
Get a Toothbrush With a Timer
There are electric toothbrushes for kids with timers that let them know when to stop brushing. Electric toothbrushes themselves are actually great for a lot of little ones because they seem special and more exciting. The timer is also nice because children know they have to brush until it goes off and, as a parent, you don’t have to do anything except hand them the toothbrush.
For more great ideas on making tooth brushing fun for kids, download our free guide: 12 Fun Activities to Get Kids to Brush Their Teeth. Or, if you need more guidance on oral hygiene and preventing tooth decay in kids, schedule a visit at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry today by calling us at (630) 848-PEDO!