Parenting is definitely not always plain sailing. When you think you’ve cracked one extraordinary task such as bedtime, you are then faced with another challenge, and for a lot of us, it involves toothbrushing.
While you have been brushing your teeth twice a day for a good number of years now, the whole concept is still pretty new to your developing child. Thankfully, finding ways to encourage your kid to brush their teeth isn’t as difficult as you might think.
Here’s our guide to ensuring your kid’s toothbrushing is a breeze:
Start as you mean to go on
When it comes to brushing teeth, it’s never too early to start. After all, the moment milk first enters your newborn’s mouth, the potential for bacterial growth begins and your little one’s dental care journey has begun.
Despite breastmilk and formula being packed full of all the essential nutrients your baby needs, it is also full of sugars. When left to fester on your child’s gums, these sugars can turn into harmful bacteria. You know, the kind that produces stinky breath and later increases the chances of tooth decay.
During infancy, you can simply wipe down your child’s gums with a soft, damp cloth or specially formulated dental wipe. Later when their first tooth appears, you can introduce a soft-bristled toothbrush (usually around 6 months old) before moving on to an electric toothbrush later on. You can start to floss when their teeth start touching.
Visit the dentist
Over the years, dentists have been turned into all sorts of nightmarish characters. Then there are all the horror stories involving pulled teeth, bloody gums and more have made children fear them before ever experiencing the dentist’s chair.
Your child’s first trip to the dentist doesn’t need to be a stressful or negative experience. If anything, it should be a memorable, positive, first time experience! So try and bear in mind:
- Dentist’s know their stuff: everything from toothbrushing advice to good foods to eat, and what to avoid, they are a great source of information
- Dentists’s can spot potential problems before they get really bad, and set up some preventative measures straight away
- Inspiring and encouraging literature: Kids love stories. So what better way to get them excited about the dentist, than a good read from one of their favourite characters. Check out Hey Duggee and the Tooth Brushing Badge and Peppa Pig: Dentist Trip for extra inspiration
Dentist’s recommend that you book in your child’s first dentist visit after their first tooth makes an appearance, or within their first year. The more familiar your child is with their dentist, the more happy and comfortable they will be for the next time.
Choice = power
If you’ve walked through the dental aisle in your local supermarket, pharmacy or had a look online, there is a humongous range of children’s toothbrushes to choose from these days. Whether your kiddo loves Disney, Star Wars, PJ Masks, Peppa Pig, My Little Pony or Paw Patrol, you won’t struggle to find them their favourite character branded on a brush.
The point is, children like to feel a sense of ownership. It allows them to feel like they are involved in the decision process, and ultimately, it makes them more enthusiastic about brushing their teeth.
As an added bonus, many brushes come with an array of flashing lights, and vibrate to remind your child to change direction or to give them a little nudge to keep brushing. Dentists recommend that everyone, no matter what their age, brush their teeth at least twice a day for two minutes. Now all you have to do, is find the right toothbrush to do most of the work for you!
A family affair
Turning your toothbrushing time into a family affair will encourage everyone to get involved. Whether you mirror eachother as you brush, sing a little song or play a game, the more fun toothbrushing is, the more willing your kid will be to participate.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Toothbrush heroes: Superbrush must save all your teeth before its too late. Help them find all the pesky leftover food pieces before your two minutes are up. Go, go, go!
- The toothbrush dance: Let your hair down and get into the toothbrushing groove. With a few well calculated brushing actions and funny faces, brushing has never looked more fun
- Sing-a-long: Make up a song to your child’s favourite song or blast out a good nursery rhyme as you get brushing
- Bathtime = funtime: Splashing around in the bath before bed is a great way to get your kid’s to calm down before bed. It is also one of the best times to brush teeth – it’s a two birds, one stone kind of deal, after all!
Toothpaste: A taste sensation
Strong minty flavours might be common amongst adult toothpastes, but there’s a reason why you’re more likely to find weaker spearmint flavours, strawberry, apple and watermelon involved in children’s toothpastes. For one, it’s not very appealing, but it’s also incredibly overpowering to your child’s overall senses.
Children’s toothpastes are in essence designed to encourage, rather than risk the development of good oral care habits. What’s more, they also contain less fluoride or none altogether. As the action of cleaning is more important at this stage.
Just like your child’s toothbrush, allowing them some flexibility of choice over the flavour of their toothpaste will make them more excited about the brushing their teeth. With all the flavour options available, once they have got through this tube, they can pick a new or different flavour next time!
Good oral hygiene doesn’t come overnight. In fact, it’s one of the biggest challenges you might face as a parent. But, with an army of positive tools at your disposal, you can ensure you give your kid their best chance at forming good lifelong habits from a young age.
What song has made your toothbrushing playlist?