It’s no secret that parenting is difficult at times — especially when it involves making your kids do things they aren’t excited to do. Most children don’t look forward to cleaning their rooms, taking a bath, getting ready for school, or going to bed; but nonetheless, it is important to teach them to do these things on their own, in spite of the occasional temper tantrum.

Taking proper care of their teeth is another activity that can be difficult to get your children excited about, but it is arguably one of the most important habits you can instil in them from an early age.

For many parents, however, this is easier said than done. In a child’s eyes, dental care is usually boring and tedious, and its benefits may as well be non-existent. It’s difficult to get your kids to take care of their teeth when they aren’t excited to do it; so here are a few tips and tricks to help make dental care fun and easy from the start.

Start with a fun toothbrush and a kid friendly toothpaste

Buy fun toothbrushes your kids will be excited to use. It might have their favourite superhero or Disney princess on the handle, or maybe it’ll be their favourite colour. And if you take your children to the store and let them pick out their own toothbrush, they’ll be even more excited to brush their teeth every morning and night.

While minty toothpaste feels refreshing and clean for most adults, children often dislike the taste and can even find intensely minty toothpastes painful. Choosing a milder mint flavour or a fruity flavour for your kids can make all the difference — and designating it as their own can make brushing even more enjoyable.

Lead by example

It’s likely that your kids look up to you, so show them how to be just like you by taking care of your teeth with them. Brush, floss, and rinse at the same time as your children to make sure they do it, and do it well.

Help them do it correctly

As a general rule, dentists suggest you brush and floss your child's teeth for him until he's coordinated enough to tie his own shoes, usually around age 6. Even at that point you should still remain involved to be sure he's brushing properly.

Set up a rewards system

If you’re having a particularly difficult time coercing your children to brush their teeth properly and consistently, try setting up a temporary rewards system. Maybe they’ll be allowed to stay up fifteen minutes later if they brush their teeth before bed, or maybe they can have their favourite cereal for breakfast if they brush their teeth first.

Prevention is better than cure

Regular dental check-ups and preventive dental care, such as cleaning and fluoride treatments, provide children with “smile” insurance. Routine dental examinations will help spot any issues early on, so they can be addressed in early stages. This will prevent painful and chronic conditions later on.

Remember that tooth decay is preventable, but children need to get properly educated about that, especially younger ones who need instruction on proper brushing and flossing. The “back to school” check-up will help put your child on the right track for healthy smiles.

Proper dental care should start as early as possible to ensure a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums — and helping your kids get excited about taking care of their teeth is an important part of establishing healthy habits that stick with them.

- Dr. Zeina Armouche, is a member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Florida Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and of International Association of Pediatric Dentistry. She is also the Pediatric Dentist at Drs. Nicolas and Asp Clinic in Dubai, UAE.