Be honest: Are you sometimes less than vigilant about brushing or flossing? However you handle your own dental hygiene, you'll want to think twice before letting your kid skip brushing tonight. Cavities are on the rise -- and more than 25 percent of children under 5 now have untreated tooth decay (which leads to cavities), according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The best way to prevent them: Help kids develop healthy teeth-cleaning habits early. That means brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and visiting the dentist every six months. From toddler-age on, parents should encourage kids to brush independently while supervising their routine, according to Man Wai Ng, DDS, chief of the department of dentistry at Children's Hospital Boston. We've rounded up some fun but functional gear that will help make tooth care more play than work.
Kids will love feeding their brushes back into the mouths of these animal-shaped Plip Clips. The heads suction onto bathroom mirrors and grip toothbrushes until kids are ready for them.
Ages 3 and up, $5.50 for a set of five.
Two minutes is the magic number when it comes to getting a thorough cleaning, but getting kids to keep a brush in their mouth for 120 seconds is easier said than done. Tooth Tunes offers a clever solution: Each brush plays two-minute sound bytes of kids' favorite songs, like Wake Up by Hilary Duff or We're All in This Together from High School Musical -- the music even gets louder as your kid brushes harder. Hey, if Kelly Clarkson can't get her to stay at the sink, we don't know what can.
Ages 6 and up, $9.99.
Teaching your child to floss may be tricky, but these easy-to-grip handles (designed for little hands) may help your child get the hang of it. Best of all, the fluoride-coated floss has a yummy fruity flavor and the handles glow in the dark.
Ages 2 and up, $2.99 for 48.
This, like, totally rad step stool makes it easy for brushing beginners to get their heads above the water -- in the sink, that is.
Ages 18 months and up, $90.
Your kid will love the sparkly surprise in this minty star-studded toothpaste, formulated with Colgate's cavity protection formula and fluoride.
Ages 2 and up, $2.99, at drugstores nationwide.
Talk about a bright idea: This pink, bubblegum-flavored fluoride rinse has a special cap
that blinks for 30 seconds -- the recommended time for effective swishing.
Ages 6 and up, $3.69
It's not quite the same as playing with action figures, but close. Whatever works. Crest's colorful SpinBrushes come in a variety of characters and shapes -- from Spider-Man and Holly Hobbie to ice cream cones and fire trucks -- and according to a company-conducted survey, kids brushed 38 percent longer with Crest SpinBrushes than with manual toothbrushes.
Ages 3 and up, $4.99, at drugstores nationwide.