Posted by Deirdre Mundy, guest blogger
It’s bedtime for toddlers. Is the toothbrush a familiar part of the routine, or a never-ending source of tantrums and screaming. If your toddler or preschool-aged child puts up a fight when the toothbrushes come out, it’s time to make a change. These are the years when you establish the dental hygiene routines that last a lifetime. With some patience, a few tricks, and a good natural kids toothpaste, you can establish the good brushing habits that will help your child learn to appreciate healthy teeth and gums.
Monkey See, Monkey Do
The most important step in teaching your child good tooth-brushing habits is to demonstrate your own routine. Bring your child into the bathroom with you when you brush your teeth. Show him or her how you brush, floss, and rinse. At each step, explain why you’re taking care of your teeth. Help your child understand that without brushing, bad germs can harm teeth.
Give your child a toothbrush to brush along with. Make this nightly routine a special time for bonding and companionship.
After your child has brushed with water, brush his or her teeth with toothpaste. Be gentle so that you don’t tear tender gums. If your child resists toothpaste, a change in flavors might improve your odds. While many adults prefer to feel “minty fresh” after they’ve brushed their teeth, most children prefer milder flavors. Strawberry and Orange-Mango natural toothpaste are perennial favorites among many preschoolers.
Over time, let your child take on more and more of the brushing routine. Soon, he or she should be able to do it solo.
If you’re not sure how to brush your child’s teeth, ask your pediatric dentist at the next appointment.
Tricks of the Trade
If your child won’t cooperate, try making it into a game. Swap toothbrushes. Let your child brush your teeth, and then brush your child’s. Go back and forth until you’ve brushed each other’s teeth effectively.
Let your child choose his or her own toothbrush. Sometimes a germ-fighting superhero or a cleaning princess can make a big difference.
Finally, ask your librarian for good books and videos about tooth brushing. Watch the videos or read the books before bedtime to get you child fired up about dental health.
It can take awhile to establish good tooth-brushing routines with your child. Be patient, keep trying, and make sure that all your children see that you value oral health. You’ll be protecting their teeth, and their health, for the rest of their lives.
Photo credit: Jean Pichot; Flickr