Post by Christina of Christina Williams Blog
I can’t let Children’s Dental Health Month slip away without a quick post about those pearly whites. Sadly, I learned this lesson the hard way with my oldest. My husband was busy with schooling at the time, and I was an overwhelmed, exhausted first-time mom. After getting up repeatedly in the night, fighting battles over car seats, diaper changes, healthy foods, etc. all day long, I didn’t have any fight left in me at bedtime. Some nights, I completely skipped flossing or did a cursory brush job when he clamped his mouth shut and thrashed around on the bathroom floor.
Before I knew it, I had a three-year-old with several cavities between his teeth. Cavities that flossing would have prevented. The sad/ironic/embarrassing part is that my husband had just graduated dental school at this time. He was usually at school during brushing time; so the fault falls entirely on me. I knew better, and I should have done better. So I’m here to tell you that it IS a big deal. And it’s a battle worth fighting.
Thankfully, I learned my lesson really quickly after that first set of x-rays, and we haven’t had any more problems. The kids know we mean business about tooth brushing and flossing. We’re well on our way to establishing healthy dental habits that will last a lifetime. I have a lot to say about kids and their teeth, so come visit my blog where I’m sharing my favorite dental products for kids. Here are a few of my favorite tips + tricks to making tooth brushing a little more fun:
- Take Turns: This is especially effective with the toddler (I do it myself) set. Set a timer. Let them brush for 1 minute, then you brush for one minute. They start developing the dexterity for brushing, and you make sure things are actually clean.
- Play Dentist: Let the little dudes brush your teeth. Then brush theirs. Or play Teddy Bear Dentist.
- Timers/Charts/Incentives: Anything visual helps. I made these little brushing charts that my kids like to use. You can download the free tooth brushing printable here. The charts are a good reminder and help them see how often they need to brush.
- Games: My youngest still clenches his mouth shut occasionally. I can usually weasel my way in there with a game. I pretend I can hear a dog (or cat or owl, etc.) hiding in his mouth and we have to search for it, with the toothbrush, of course. Or I do a “super fast race car brush” with lots of sounds and wiggling.
- Older Kids: My oldest is 9 now, and usually does a pretty great job with his teeth. I still check them a couple times a week; but around 8, kids are usually able to brush pretty well. There are some great rinses out there that tint the spots they miss so they can see where they need to do some more work.
If all else fails, just pin ‘em down and brush whether they like it or not. I’ve had to use this tactic a time or two, and it’s much better than the alternative. Cavities happen, even to the best of us. With a little prevention and effort, however, we can help to minimize them and teach our kids healthy habits.
Happy Tooth Brushing!