That first shiny, tooth is so cute. You call grandma. You post 6 pictures of the tooth on Facebook. You tell strangers in the grocery store line. Then soon, it hits you. That tooth just added to your parenting responsibilities. Toothbrushing. Really? Another thing to do? These teeth all fall out anyway right? Oh, ok…this can’t be too hard.
Here. Brush your tooth, kid….(insert noise of toothpaste being sucked off toothbrush). Hmm…Those first 3 years of everything is tough, including toothbrushing. Welcome to what we call…
Alternatively entitiled , “Avoiding a Child with Cheeseteeth”
Once upon a time there were 3 beautiful children with 3 very unique tooth brushing personalities. One child, mostly giggles, dances, and jumps through toothbrushing. Another child tries to fake us out and refused to open his/her mouth for years for the dentist. The final child brushes for 2 full minutes if not longer, because that’s what they were told, followed by flossing each tooth, and rinsing with fluoride “pink rinse” per dentist’s recommendation. They eat the same. They drink 400 gallons of milk a week. They equally brush after sweets. One of these children has had numerous cavities. Any guesses?
That’s right. The Snow White of toothbrushing, my first born daughter who may be the best toothbrusher EVER. I wish someone would have taken a picture of my face when they first told me she had cavities. Maya? You mean Ava, right? The BAD toothbrusher? Maya really took it to heart, tearfully asking her dentist at age 5 how she could do better. Broke my heart. Life lesson: sometimes we can only control so much.
I stopped that day ever saying “Brush your teeth better or you’ll get cavities!” Meanwhile, Brother and Sister Cheeseteeth sail through their visits with rave reviews. Apparently, there’s some genetics involved which Maya got from me. John’s only had 1 cavity in his life and I’ve lost track. I also had braces for 4 years, John did not. Jury’s still out on which of the kids (Please God, not all of them, and give Maya a break here) will need braces. Sidenote: Maya also inherited my eyesight and wild hair.
1. Start them early. They’re chewing on everything anyway. Hand them a toothbrush once in awhile.
2. Don’t panic. Your best toothbrusher may get cavities too.
3. Let them brush when you are brushing. Let them brush YOUR teeth too, before you brush their teeth.
4. Silly songs! I’ll spare singing these to you. We just made up a couple. The freeze dance works well here! And maybe a little Bust a Move…”Don’t just stand there, brush a tooth!”
5. Try double brushes those first 3 years. Half the battle of you brushing their teeth is releasing their fat little grip and giving up control. Have a 2nd toothbrush. Have 3. Play some switcheroo games.
6. When you have company, make them brush with your kids. Sometimes kids just listen better and have less power struggles with grandma or auntie or a funny uncle or friend or older cousin. Also a good time to use the line “Hey, Grandma, you just won’t believe how awesome of a tooth brusher Dawson is!”
7. Role play toothbrushing (with old brushes) with any doll or animal that has teeth. You can even make a “dentist” kit, use this doctor post for inspiration.
8. Keep a fun supply of toothbrushes rolling in. Let them pick it out. I love the design your own with stickers one. The musical ones are fun. Glow in the dark ones. My kids always get new toothbrushes from Santa. He’s practical like that.
9. Power in numbers. Use peer pressure to your advantage. Brush as a family or at least siblings together.
10. Thank you to the inventor of flossers.
11. I’m sure there’s some good dentist-ish books out there. I just throw in comments about shiny teeth and pretty smiles while reading any story or watching a tv show or movie. Diego must be a really good tooth brusher, look at his handsome smile!
12. Find a really fun pediatric dentist! They really roll out the red carpet for kids. Video games, TVs, cool prizes, fun ways to teach them about what’s going on, stuffed animals to brush, balloons, and mine even get ice cream as they leave! Which, to me means that when I leave the dentist I head straight to the frozen custard place.
13. What do I know, I’m raising a cavity kid. For legit tooth brushing advice, here’s the link to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s Parent Resources.
What toothbrushing tips do you have for your littlest ones?
Say cheese! Shelisa