One thing I have always been quite lucky with is how well the boys brush their teeth. Right from a young age, they were happy to sit and let me brush their teeth and as they have got older I try to encourage them to do it alone while I supervise and then I give them a quick once over.
The thing that many of us don’t know is how important brushing your baby’s teeth is, right from the get go. It doesn’t matter if it’s 1 tooth of 10, you need to get brushing!
1.) Don’t be afraid to get in there early!
Don’t be afraid that you are going to hurt baby, you won’t. Use a soft bristle brush and toothpaste (just a dab to start with). Go really gently, talk and smile while you are brushing baby’s teeth. I used to sing to the boys while I ‘brushed’ their first teeth, they used to giggle like crazy.
2.) Make it part of the routine.
Everyone has some kind of bedtime routine, mine is bath, followed by a bit of supper if they want it while watching some TV and enjoying a bit of ‘wind down time’, and then it’s ‘teggy’ time (what we say when we brush our teeth) and finally up to bed. Your routine doesn’t have to be the same as mine, but adding brushing into a routine is vital, even if it’s for a little baby of only a few months old.
3.) Don’t let your kids take bottles of juice or milk to bed.
This is one of the main causes of tooth decay in children, and I always used to allow Reuben to take a beaker filled with milk to bed until I discovered this. Dentists even have a term for this cause of tooth decay, it’s known as ‘baby bottle tooth decay’ so you can tell how detrimental it can be to our child’s teeth.
4.) Make brushing fun with funky toothbrushes
Once you have a child that will gladly brush their teeth (or reluctantly!) make the whole experience fun for them by getting them funky toothbrushes. There are thousands on the market, my boys have had sharks, crocodiles, rabbits and even lions – all depending on their flavour of the month. As soon as the bristles have become a bit bent or chewed up, they have gone in the bin and been replaced. It’s not going to guarantee your child will allow you to brush their teeth happily of you miss that window of getting them used to it, but it will help make it more appealing to them once they have come to accept that it’s a part of their routine. I think is important to remember is that, though tooth brushes can be funky and fun looking, they still aren’t toys. Young children should always be supervised when brushing their own teeth, but it’s important to get them used to brushing their teeth – just don’t forget that until the age of 7 children need you to brush their teeth once they have had a go themselves, simply because they aren’t dexterous enough to brush thoroughly and prevent tooth decay.
5.) Brushing for so long? Booooring! Not if you make it a game though!
Ideally children need to brush their teeth for at least 2 minutes. If you sit there right now and count to 120 (don’t forget to add Mississippi in between each number!) then you will see it’s quite a long time, and an impossibly long time for a 2-4 year old to brush their teeth for. Make brushing fun, try a funky timer – we had a Thomas the tank engine one when Reuben & Toby were obsessed with Thomas. If you don’t think that would work why not try doing teeth together – ‘I can brush mine here, there, better than yours’ etc etc kind of thing. After all, you can’t over brush your own teeth and anything that makes it more appealing is awesome for your kids!
So tell me, what do you do with your kids and their teeth? Have you found it hard to get them to brush their teeth? How did you over come the issue?