Some children are adventurous little monkeys, while others prefer a strict routine, and any change will turn them into grumpsters that refuse to cooperate. Getting them to try new food is a challenge (*if your little tots is a picky eater, then this post might help you), new clothes or shoes are frowned upon- it took my toddler two days to finally wear his new shoes- or getting your sweet kid to brush his teeth is a world drama.
I know how difficult it is to get your kid to brush his teeth when he absolutely refuses. Sometimes you just want to quit and let him be. What’s the big deal, they’re just milk teeth, and they’ll fall out anyway, right? Well, not really. Taking care of milk teeth is just as important as taking care of adult teeth.
Why is it so important to take good care of milk teeth you might ask?
First of all, milk teeth are just as vulnerable to cavities as adult teeth are. Left untreated cavities will lead to pain and losing the tooth.
Second, milk teeth hold the spot for adult teeth. Dr Maria Lopez-Howell calls them “nature’s braces.” Having issues with teeth now might affect the permanent ones later. The adult teeth could be thrown out of alignment, which could bring about a series of problems like chewing difficulties and even speech modifications.
You can read more about the importance of baby teeth here.
When is the best time to start taking care of milk teeth?
Care starts even before the first pearly white has come through. Get into the habit of wiping your baby’s gums with a soft damp cloth. This will help remove milk residue from the gums. Later on, then the first teeth appear, replace the fabric with a toothbrush, and age-appropriate toothpaste.
Teaching your child to brush his teeth without tears and screaming is what I am going to focus on today. For some children, being forced to brush their teeth can be a bit of a privacy invasion. Especially when they’re young, it is a weird, unpleasant activity that mom or dad forces him to do. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are ways to get your kids to brush their teeth and have fun while doing it. Yes, you read it correctly. Your child actually wanting to brush their teeth!
All you have to do is put on your detective hat and discover which idea works best for your kid.
It took me a while, but I finally found it! We went from screaming and fighting when it was time to brush his teeth to my sweet boy taking my hand to go to the bathroom where he can brush his teeth.
So, if you are like me a few months ago, dreading the whole teeth brushing routine, then I hope you will find the answer below. Here are ways to get your kids to brush their teeth:
Set a good example
Children function on the principle “monkey see, monkey do.” Which, for us parents, it’s great. It means that besides imitating our annoying habits, they will also copy some good ones, like brushing their teeth.
So, whenever you are brushing your teeth, make sure that your little one can see you. Also, make it look like the most fun activity there is. Let them know that mommy and daddy always brush their teeth twice a day because they want to have healthy, white teeth.
2. You brush mine, and I brush yours
If you are brave enough, allow the child to brush your teeth while you brush his teeth. You can turn it into a competition. Let’s see who does the best job at brushing teeth. After the two minutes are gone, look in the mirror and decide together who has the whiter teeth. The winner can get a sticker, for example.
3. Mr./Mrs. Dentist
Role play is part of any child’s healthy development. You can use this to make kids brush their teeth without any drama, quite the opposite. Making it fun. Let them imagine that they are dentists, and they need to examine and make their teeth healthy by brushing them. You can go the extra mile and buy one of those inspection mirrors that dentists use (they are not expensive, and you can find them on Amazon) and a white robe.
4. Reward the good effort
Have a colorful reward chart on the bathroom wall. If the chart has the child’s favorite character, all the better. Every time the child brushes his teeth for the whole two minutes, he will earn a sticker. When he reaches a certain number of stickers that you have previously decided upon, he will get a reward. It can be anything from a toy that he wants to an extra half an hour in the park.
5. Songs, videos and books
The internet is full of fun songs and videos that teach your child how to brush his teeth. Just do a quick search on youtube, for example, and you will find a long list. My boy used to love this song from Super Simple Songs when he was younger and allowed me to brush his teeth without ant resistance.
Books are another way to get your kid to brush his teeth. There are so many to choose from, and they are all so cute. We had “How to brush your teeth with Snappy Croc,” a brilliant, colorful book that we used to read while I brushed his teeth. I talk about the book in the past tense because, in a momentary lapse of attention from my part, it took a shower. But I would like to rebuy it because we love it.
6. Saviour of the Mouth Kingdom
You don’t necessarily need to buy a book. You can make your own adventure stories. The limit is your imagination.
For example, you can pretend that the mouth is a beautiful kingdom where its white citizens live called the teeth. Sometimes, the teeth get attacked by some ugly bacteria which are envious of their whiteness. So, they want to get the teeth black and ugly like them. But fear not! There is a hero who can save all the citizens from the Mouth Kingdom. Yes, that hero is your child. He has a magic wand, called a toothbrush, which, with the help of the powerful toothpaste, will chase away all the harmful bacteria.
7. Shop together
Allowing the child to have a say in picking his toothbrush and toothpaste will give him a sense of importance. Plus, chances are he will be more likely to use something that he has chosen. Mom or dad can make sure that the toothbrush and toothpaste are appropriate for the child’s age.
8. Show them what could happen
This one is for older children, and only if mom and dad know that their child doesn’t scare easily. You could show your child pictures of what happens to teeth if he doesn’t brush them regularly. Again, it’s up to you what kind of images you choose. I would stay away from the very dramatic ones. Explain to your child that if the doesn’t brush his teeth cavity sets in and in some cases, he will have toothaches and can even lose his tooth.
This idea might make some kids brush their teeth while with others, it might give them nightmares. So it’s up to the parents to decide whether it will work or not for their child.
Hopefully, you will find the right idea here that will get your toddler to brush his teeth. But be prepared to change things from time to time. With my little boy, we started with songs and videos, and it was great for a while. Then we got the ‘Snappy Croc book until it unexpectedly took a shower. Now we are at the ‘You brush mine, I brush yours’ stage and we are having a blast each time.
What strategies do you use to get your kids to brush their teeth? I would love to hear about them.