Don’t Pull Your Hair Out Over Brushing Your Kids’ Teeth

Last updated on March 2nd, 2018 at 04:23 pm

mother and daughter brushing teethWhining at tooth-brushing time can make you want to pull your own hair out. We know a better solution than threatening to take them to the dentist and pulling their teeth out instead.

How exactly can you get your kids into the bathroom and brushing their teeth correctly? 

Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger when it comes to having problems getting kids to follow through with tooth brushing. Survey results show that just 58% of children brush their teeth 2X a day. Your goal is to get your kids into the bathroom and brushing their teeth correctly? Here are 5 tips to peace and quiet in your home as well as healthier mini-me’s.

1)  A special trip to the store for toothbrush shopping

Everyone likes buying new things; it just makes you feel better. Children are no different.

  • Before the trip, do some talking around them that you are planning a big excursion for an important purchase for their health, something that will really help them in a special way. Let them know that they’re going to be allowed to choose their very own “special” toothbrush.
  • You are smart because you are using psychology to help you get to your goals: kids brush teeth and reduce dental disease.  It’s a well-known fact that when a child chooses a toothbrush on their own, they are making a much deeper commitment. They actually own the decision when it’s their choice. And, they are much more likely to actually use it.
  • Go for the counter at the drug store with the colorful brushes, action figures and cartoon characters. It may seem elementary, but they are going to do much better if they own the toothbrush in their mind.

2)  Establish a pattern of behavior

Timing is everything. Like any routine, once it’s learned, it becomes a habit and is not fought against. The trick is to make it fun, easy and forgettable (as to the stress part of it).

As a child develops, the one thing that is comforting to him or her is being in a routine.

Routines give them a sense of security, helps them to develop the discipline necessary to do boring things…such as following good oral hygiene practices!

3)  Happy Time

Could it be that kids just mimic what they see their parents doing? The average person does not brush their teeth for the full two minutes that dentist’s recommend. Why would a kid know any different? We need to be better role models, certainly. I know it’s boring to brush for two minutes, but there are payoffs if we do.

Cooperation comes from making it a fun game, a happy time. Perhaps some of the following suggestions will do the trick.

  • What if you also brushed as the child brushed? Just that could make it a fun time.
  • Prop a favorite doll on the bathroom shelf above the child. At tooth brushing time, take the doll down and have your child practice brushing the doll’s teeth. Next, tell them how happy their doll is with them and the job they did. Finally, suggest they give it a try on their own teeth.
  • YouTube has in its archives many “toothbrush songs”. To make brushing fun for your kids fine one for each day of the week and play a different song each time. You’ll notice that most are two minutes long, just the right amount of time to brush thoroughly.
  • If you can create a game of it all, you will win big time. When they go the full two minuted duration, they win. When they make all the right moves, brushing inside and outside, they win. Be sure they get a prize when they compete the game!

4)  The family that brushes together stays together.

As I mentioned, do this as a group. Child, mom and dad doing the tooth brush shuffle!

  • When the time comes to whisk away the sugar bugs, make it a big deal. Excitement sells lots of things, even tooth brushing. The fun you generate on your way to the bathroom will pay off in spades when you visit the dentist in a few months.
  • Kids want in on the fun. Curiosity can get them to follow you both to the bathroom. There the brushing can begin. Talk about the doll or the super hero figure needing to be saved from sugar bug attack. Make it fun time for the child.

5)  Electric toothbrushes work for kids

As adults, most of us probably use an electric toothbrush because they are absolutely the best for us. The truth is, kids absolutely love them, too.

Several electric toothbrushes are available specifically made for children with colorful designs, audio jingles and sound effects to encourage children to brush longer.

  • You may want to start slowly; gradually increasing the brushing time from one minute to two minutes.
  • I like to divide the effort into eight parts, inside left, outside left, inside right, outside right all on the top and then do that same four sections on the bottom teeth.
  • Don’t forget to brush every tooth on every side, not just the tops of the teeth or just the front six teeth.

Some of the most fantastic success stories we have heard came from our small patients getting an electric tooth brush and using it to whirl away the sugar bugs. Try it, you’ll see!

About the Author

I am a family dentist who treats children as well as adults. Making smiles people love, extreme makeovers and complex dental reconstruction is our niche including implants, TMJ, orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry. As a participant in the blog, I will be offering dental perspectives on pediatric safety and health care options on a regular basis. I can be reached at www.suwaneedental.com. Blessings to all! Dr Williams is a member of the PedSafe Expert team

Comments

One Response to “Don’t Pull Your Hair Out Over Brushing Your Kids’ Teeth”

  1. I am having the hardest time with my five year old. I show him how to brush over and over and it’s like he’s not even trying. I’m half tempted to do it myself but I just make him watch me as he does it.

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