When kids consistently demonstrate healthy hygiene habits, I like to suggest to parents that they reward the kids. This is always appropriate, but I find it can be beneficial for some kids. I don’t suggest rewarding brushing, because that should just be natural. Kids need to know that brushing their teeth is not optional.
What I do like to suggest, is rewarding kids for any extra steps that they take. For example, I have a patient who rewards her two sons when they floss every day for five days in a row. It’s easy to skip flossing, but it’s just as important as brushing. When either of her kids floss five days in a row (and she makes them show her), they’re allowed to stay up reading an extra hour before bed during the week, or they’re allowed to stay up an extra hour doing whatever they’d like on the weekend.
Her kids are rewarded with something they like, but we don’t have to fill extra cavities because she doesn’t choose to reward them with sweet treats, as is often the case. Choosing what you reward your kids for, as well as what you reward them with, are two very important decisions for a parent. Hopefully this gives those parents out there some inspiration!