Establish Your Own Dental Home with the Easy-to-Implement Brush, Book, Bed Routine

Brush, book, bed campaign & kids' dental health resource guide

⌛  By Kaylin R. Staten ⌛

I have a confession to make. I have a dentist phobia. It started when I was a child, and it continues to this day. I would rather clean toilets than make a dentist appointment; however, I realize the importance of having regular visits to the dentist, which I try to do. Even if my mind is kicking and screaming all the way to the dentist's chair. 

According to Colgate, a child can experience dental-visit anxiety in myriad ways. Typically, girls age 7 to 12 are more likely to exhibit dental fear than boys of the same age group, and that fear can arise from several socioeconomic factors and beyond. For example, fathers tend to showcase dental fear more often, so children often inherit a parent’s dental fear. Some symptoms of dental fear include avoidance and missed appointments, sight or feel of dental instruments, real or perceived pain associated with going to the dentist, other threats, recurring thoughts and more. 

Starting your child’s dental health routine from an early age can help him or her develop the necessary skills and habits that will carry over into adulthood and also combat the child’s (and parents’) fear of the dentist. February is National Children’s Dental Health Awareness Month, and the Cabell County Family Resource Network and its partners continue to communicate the importance of children’s dental health. Below, you will learn the AAP’s Brush, Book, Bed basics about establishing your own dental home — whether you have children, are an auntie (like me!), or are a bachelor or bachelorette living the dream in your own apartment or house.

Creating your own dental health habits — or those for the little people in your life — doesn’t have to be a cumbersome endeavor. For children, it should begin as early as babyhood. If you’re an adult, skip the baby-related wording below and skip right to the brushing section — and make sure you get a good night’s sleep! 

The Brush, Book, Bed routine will help your child establish a healthy routine.


Your child’s dental health starts when he or she is a baby. If your baby’s teeth haven’t come in yet, you can use a soft washcloth to wipe your baby’s gums after feedings. If your child is 3 or younger, help him or her brush his or her teeth twice a day and use a smear of fluoride toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice). From ages 3 to 6, children should brush two times per day and upgrade to a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. If your children want to brush their own teeth, let them! Just do some spot checking to make sure they brushed their molars — and also that they flossed. Sing a song if you have to. Get your child a lightsaber toothbrush. Time the two minutes with a miniature hourglass (the Cabell County FRN has these!). Use your creativity to establish teeth-brushing habits.

And a note for parents and caregivers: Dental visits should start when your child is around age one and should occur every six months after that first appointment. 


At Hourglass Omnimedia, we are huge advocates of reading! No matter your child’s age, a book can help him or her settle down after teeth brushing and begin to head to sleepy town. You can begin to read to your child when he or she is a baby, and as your child grows, graduate to asking your child questions about what you are reading and what they are seeing in the illustrations. Ask things like, “Where is the cat?” and “What color is the sky?” No matter what age, children love hearing their parents’ soothing voices reading, talking and singing to them. Be as expressive as possible. When possible, let your children pick out a book or two to read. 

Note: Some of my bedtime favorites as a child were Go, Dog, Go!, Once Upon a Potty and every Little Golden Book ever published.


As you get older, you value your sleep. Trust me! When you’re a child, though, you may fight sleep HARD. (I know I did… I brought 10+ books and comics with me to bed to peruse before sleeping.) After your child brushes his or her teeth and you read a couple of books, it’s time for bed! Parents of babies know how challenging it can be to experience a full night’s sleep. Make sure to keep playtime reserved for the day and put your child to sleep when he or she is drowsy but still awake. This helps them fall asleep on their own. And while it’s a parent or caregiver’s instinct to rush to the baby’s crib when you hear a cry over the monitor, wait a few minutes. Sometimes, your child will go back to sleep after a few minutes of fussing. As your child enters toddlerhood and older stages, waking up in the middle of the night is still normal. Make sure your children have a blanket, stuffed animal or another favorite object to learn to console themselves when a bad dream or thunderstorm wakes them up.

The Cabell County FRN has a comprehensive children’s dental health resource guide and toolkit for eight different sectors. The guide has local, regional and national resources, so no matter where you are, you can benefit from this toolkit. For example, you can download fun teeth-brushing videos for your kids or find a dentist near you here. The guide is available here.

We promise… it’s full of GREAT information!

If you’re an adult, you can also implement this in your household. I brush my teeth, read a book on my phone and then go to sleep. It’s never too early — or late — to start this routine! And I’ve had to overcome my dentist phobia so I don’t pass it down to the next generation (says the #girlboss who had her wisdom teeth removed two years ago this month). 

To learn more, visit the Cabell County Family Resource Network site. To download resources for your own use, visit our Google Drive here!

Copyright © MMXVIII Hourglass Omnimedia, LLC

Kaylin R. Staten is an award-winning public relations practitioner and writer. She owns Hourglass Omnimedia, a consulting company based in Huntington, WV. 

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