Getting your kids to consistently brush their teeth and practice good dental habits is difficult but absolutely paramount to establish at an early age. Because the process may seem like a chore to kids, developing these healthy habits later on will be much more difficult. To achieve this, here are some ways to encourage your kids to practice oral hygiene so that their teeth stay nice and healthy.

Let Them Imitate You

They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery. When your kids are young, they see you as their infallible role model, incapable of making mistakes and always knowing best. Thus, it’s not uncommon for kids to want to be exactly like their parents. Using this mindset to your advantage, let your kids see you go through the process of brushing and flossing your teeth. Chances are they’ll want to emulate you and believe that brushing and flossing make them, in turn, more mature. When getting your kids to emulate you, however, make sure you show them only the best habits—brush for at least two minutes twice a day and make sure your flossing technique is correct.

Present Incentives

Another way to encourage your kids to practice oral hygiene is by presenting incentives or rewards for them. The long-term reward of having a neat and clean smile doesn’t quite register with them yet, so instead, you should recognize their efforts with a more immediate reward like gold stars, stickers, or even simply praise. Obviously, you don’t want to offer candy and other counter-productive rewards, nor do you want to offer rewards that are too big, given dental hygiene needs to become simply a habit. Little ways to recognize their efforts will suffice to fill them with pride and enforce habits of cleaning their teeth.

Consider Alternatives

For kids who are a bit older and are entering that phase of their life when braces and other orthodontic procedures become necessary, they may be hesitant or even resistant to such procedures due to insecurity or fear. If traditional braces seem too tall of an order for your child, you could instead present them with an alternative such as clear aligners like Invisalign. This provides the same effects as braces but is more subtle and comfortable than metal and wire braces. However, as clear aligners are removable, you’ll need to ensure your child is staying accountable and actually wearing the aligners as much as possible.