I can’t describe how sad I feel for toddlers who already have rotten teeth, and let me tell you, this is more real than you think (I think Mittens has at least 2 friends like that). Their teeth are so bad, I shudder to think how it will look when they’re adults. Anyway, since today is Friday, I have some Friday Fives of how to get your kids to brush their teeth.
1. Start early
They can never be too young to get them acquainted with a toothbrush! Especially when I want her to be occupied with something while I’m busy. For all practical purposes though, we prefer to use gauze for cleaning babies mouths, rather than any kind of finger brush. It’s also good to expose them to dental check-ups as early as possible. They don’t need to sit in the chair like our dear model below, but it’s always good if they can accompany you (unless it’s small and uncomfortable), and get used to the environment and sounds, so that it’s not something they fear or dread. My boys think the dental chair is a slide, but no, we don’t really let them use it as one. More importantly, always try to ensure their first or first few visits are pleasant ones, then they will be easier to treat if and when (touch wood) they have any issues that need to be dealt with.
2. Spin stories if you must
We tell the boys that worms will make holes in their teeth because they love the food stuck in their teeth. We also do try and tell them that actually it’s bacteria and decay, blah blah blah, but I think it’s best to leave the cheemology scientific explanations to when they’re older, so for now we use worms as a way to personify bacteria.
3. Use visual aids
One day when Mittens was about 3, he saw my MIL washing her dentures after a meal and requested to look at them and her mouth with some teeth missing. Of course I quickly elaborated (and MIL didn’t mind supporting the story) that your teeth will drop out if you didn’t brush them, and from that day onward he became very responsible about brushing his teeth. Hey a little fear never hurt anyone 😀
4. Use peer pressure
Kids love to do what other kids are doing, especially if it’s a sibling who’s doing it. This is how at one stage we got them lining up to have their teeth brushed. Leading by example is also how each boy progressed from baby toothpaste to kids toothpaste to adult toothpaste. Both boys will now brush their own teeth, with a quick re-brush by one of us just to be sure.
5. Use literature
There are many MANY books out there about taking care of your teeth, visiting the dentist, etc. But one of our favorite books is My Milk Toof, which personifies the author’s milk teeth.
What are some of your tips for getting your kids to brush?
That little boy on the dentist’s chair is Mittens. Good lord, how he’s grown!