Making sure your little one brushes their teeth can be a pain – they usually either run away or just suck the toothpaste off the brush, making you want to skip this twice-daily nightmare routine altogether.
Even though your kids will eventually lose their baby teeth, it’s still really important to take care of them right from the beginning, so we’ve got eight tips to help make it all a bit easier.
1. Always supervise
Dentists don’t recommend children brush their teeth by themselves until they’re eight years old, so even if your preschooler is super confident and independent, be sure to supervise them as they might start slacking off. It can take kids a while to get the hang of brushing when they’re little, so make it something you do together and give them the choice of brushing their teeth themselves or you doing it for them – and if they don’t do it properly then it’s Mum’s turn.
2. Get app-y
There are lots of different tooth brushing apps out there for your smartphone and tablet that can help get children excited about the act of brushing their teeth. Macleans Brush Time is a good one and there is also a sweet one from The Wiggles. Most apps have a cute song and video that kids can watch while brushing their teeth, which tells them what to do and makes sure they brush for a full two minutes. Children may want to play the apps outside of brushing time too, as many have other games and features to help foster a feeling of fun around tooth brushing.
3. Buy new brushes
Try buying a new toothbrush or two, even better if your child gets to choose it themselves. They might be more inclined to clean their teeth if the crew from Frozen or Mickey Mouse is on the brush’s handle, and you can also try different types of brushes – an electric toothbrush or a toothbrush that change colour are popular choices for little users.
4. Use a timer
If you’re not keen on using a digital device to time your child’s tooth brushing, why not try an old-fashioned timer like an hourglass! Your little one will love turning it over and watching the grains of sand fall while they brush and it can help keep them focused.
5. Don’t use paste
Some kids can’t stand the taste of toothpaste – too ‘spicy’ or ‘minty’ are popular complaints. It’s the act of brushing itself which is the most important part of removing plaque build-up and food particles, so just get them to use water instead. Then once they’re comfortable and capable at brushing their teeth, slowly introduce a very small amount of toothpaste.
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6. Take turns
If you’re brushing your teeth at the same time as your child, they might be more keen to copy what you’re doing. Another good idea is taking turns, or getting them to ‘brush’ your teeth while you do theirs.
7. Scare tactics
Educating your kids about what happens when you don’t brush your teeth properly is a good scare tactic. Show them pictures of decayed or missing teeth and explain that the Tooth Fairy won’t accept rotten or yellow teeth. Children are all motivated by different things so this might work for those kids looking forward to their future Tooth Fairy visit and gold coin reward.
8. Bribes and rewards
When all else fails, bribe. It doesn’t have to be anything big; stickers are great for when they reach the full two minutes or use incentives such as letting them choose their own breakfast in the morning. Just be careful about offering sweets as rewards – it’s counterproductive considering we’re trying to look after their teeth and not help them rot!
This post was originally published on 8 January 2018