Is getting your kids to brush their teeth turning into a war of wills that’s driving you mad ?
I well remember saying to my daughter Molly that she’d end up with black teeth and no boyfriends when she refused to brush her teeth for the umpteenth time ! Ouch ….. !
We want clean teeth, clean hair and washed hands and to be honest kids just don’t get it but we do need to talk and teach them so here are a few tips to help reduce the stress !
The key to making brushing a stress-free habit is introducing brushing habits from a very early age. Even babies can be introduced to the sensation of having something in their mouth – practise gently rubbing a clean finger over their gums a couple of times a day. That way, they won’t find a toothbrush uncomfortable. Getting a small amount of fluoride onto their teeth is helpful too as it prevents and controls tooth decay.
Do it with them
If your children are a bit older, get them interested in brushing by doing it with them. Children are naturally inquisitive, and want to be like you. So, encourage them to start brushing when you do especially when they go through that that ‘What are you doing?’ phase of asking lots of questions. Stand in front of a mirror with them so they can see what you are doing, and brush your teeth first, followed by theirs. Make sure you brush & supervise them until they’re around seven years old.
Give them choices.
Make brushing fun and you’ve won half the battle. Help them to choose their own toothbrush in the supermarket – a small-headed brightly-coloured superhero design will make brushing much more appealing & you can buy fun toothbrush holders that suction onto the bathroom mirror, too. Play music that becomes your toothbrushing song so they learn to associate brushing their teeth with enjoyment. If they’re past the age of five and still hate brushing, it becomes slightly trickier because habits have already been established. Try a connected toothbrush with an app or game associated to brushing- there are plenty online. Colourful, vibrating brushes with flashing lights will make the ritual much more exciting if they’re reluctant to brush. I know it seems like you’re being a Butlin’s Redcoat but I recently had a client who’s 7 year old had 10 teeth taken out due to decay!
Avoid strong flavours
They might make your mouth feel minty-fresh, but strong peppermint flavours aren’t a great idea for children. Try and avoid strong flavours as children don’t like the ‘burning’ sensation and might avoid brushing as a result. Lots of dentists don’t recommend fruit-flavoured toothpastes either as they get children used to sugary-tasting things, and it encourages them to swallow. Toothpaste isn’t a sweet, remember! Start as you mean to go on with mild minty toothpaste which is a better option. Either way, below the age of three, children just need a tiny smear – don’t go overboard.
Fluoride is not the enemy
Fluoride protects teeth, and neutralises the effects of sugary acids. Yes, there are dangers from swallowing too much fluoride, but that comes down to incorrect usage over a sustained period of time. Most dentists recommendation is to use a fluoride-based toothpaste.