Let’s face it, brushing your little ones teeth can be a challenge! They chew the toothbrush, close their mouth, cry and run away. When it’s time to brush, many children even kick and scream, making this a dreaded time of the bedtime routine.
No matter how exhausting this can become, it’s important that parents don’t give up. After-all, tooth decay is the most common childhood disease. Good oral habits, and a healthy diet are essential to keeping cavities away. Baby teeth are not as strong as adult teeth, and cavities can spread quickly once they start.
When the going gets tough, try these tips to keep it positive, fun, and successful.
Sing a SONG! Make it fun!
Turn teeth brushing into play, by singing a fun song, counting, laughing, or playing peek-a-boo. With my own children, I have even resorted to tickling, making them laugh, flipping them upside down, and brushing their teeth when their mouths are open. It’s important to keep it positive, even if your child is tired, cranky, and not wanting to participate. I personally love brushing my kids teeth while singing Raffi’s Brush your Teeth song.
Let your kids pick their toothbrush at the store. A new toothbrush with their favourite cartoon character or colour will spark their interest and get them excited to brush. Other fun accessories to add to your children’s teeth brushing routine are a timer, or a calendar stickers. A timer can be used to get the family to brush for longer (ideal is two minutes!), and a calendar with stickers can be used to motivate kids to brush two times per day.
Consider an electric toothbrush for kids, when teaching them to brush more independently. I really like the Sonicare for kids.
Just like children can be picky eaters, they can be picky about their toothpaste flavours too. Some children prefer fruit flavours and others prefer a gentle mint. Experimenting with different toothpastes until you find one that your child likes, can be very helpful. Also, choose a fluoridated toothpaste for children, as fluoride is effective at preventing cavities. A gentle mint toothpaste option is the ProEnamel for kids or Colgate for kids.
If you make the experience fun and positive, your kids will eventually learn to love brushing their teeth. Parents should also monitor, and educate their children in brushing, as young kids do not have the dexterity to do it well enough. Don’t forget that you can also model good brushing habits by brushing your own teeth in front of your kids.
Don’t forget to book your family to visit the dentist every 6 months for a check-up and cleaning. This starts at about one year of age, and is extremely helpful at encouraging children to brush well at night, and most of all have fun.
Dr. Melissa Skinner is a North Vancouver Dentist, and is presently accepting new patients. For more information, please visit www.thirdstreetdentaldrskinner.ca.