Nearly Half of All Parents Struggle With Getting Their Kids to Brush

Dentistry Today


Nearly half of all parents in the United States face challenges in getting their children to practice proper oral hygiene, according to the Delta Dental Children’s Oral Health Survey, which reports that 46% have difficulties getting their kids to brush, and 47% have trouble getting their kids to floss.

By comparison, 48% have a tough time getting their children to eat their vegetables, 43% get pushback when they ask their kids to help with chores, and 29% face resistance when it’s time for their kids to make their beds.

Age makes a difference too, with 49% of children under the age of 3 showing stubbornness when it’s time to brush and 42% of those between the ages of 6 and 9 refusing to brush—and that’s the most cooperative age group, Delta Dental says.

“In summer, many children’s daily routines may take on a leisurely pace. Already poor oral habits could continue to deteriorate,” said Joe Dill, DDS, MBA, Delta Dental Plans Association vice president of dental science and network strategy. “Try to make dental care fun for kids while showing them the proper way to brush and floss.”

Delta Dental further notes that summertime coincides with increased consumption of sugary snacks and drinks that can promote tooth decay. Dill recommends healthy summer snacks like apples, carrots, and celery to help scrub teeth between meals. Also, sugar-free gum with xylitol can help clean children’s teeth when toothbrushes aren’t available. 

With the new school year approaching, Delta Dental adds that some states mandate dental screenings as part of their enrollment requirements. These screenings reinforce the important role of children’s oral health during the academic year, Delta Dental says, as oral health diseases such as tooth decay can interfere with learning.

Delta Dental conducted the Children’s Oral Health Survey between December 31, 2018, and January 13, 2019, among a nationally representative sample of 1,481 parents of children ages 12 and under.

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