If you’re a parent, you’ve surely experienced the child that just does not want to brush their teeth.

“But I’m too tired”.

“But I don’t like the taste”.

“But I brushed them yesterday”.

I think I’ve heard them all.

Good oral health starts the day the first little buds erupt out of your infant’s sore, red, swollen gums and ingraining the oh so important oral health messages in your child’s mind, will help ensure they have good oral heath in their later years, and for life.

So, how do we go about this? We’ve got some hacks to help.

The earlier the better
As soon as your child’s teeth start to show, you will need to start brushing them.  Use a small soft toothbrush with a thin smear of fluoride toothpaste to brush your child’s teeth from the time they first appear. Be very gentle when helping. Your child will be able to start brushing their own teeth once they can control a pencil and begin to write (about five years old).  However, you will need to supervise brushing until your child is about eight years old.

Make it a routine
Make brushing your kids’ teeth a routine morning and night just like they get into bed/out of bed, dressed/undressed.  Right before bed time I always say “toilet, teeth” and my kids know what that means. Most of the time I don’t need to ask twice. Brushing their teeth right before they leave the house in the morning and right before they go to sleep has become a habit, it’s just something they do instinctively now.

Role-modelling
“But you never brush your teeth” was the reply I once got from my daughter. She raised a valid point, because I do of course brush my teeth twice a day, but she actually never sees me in the act (she’s either still asleep, or just gone to sleep.) I now deliberately make sure my kids see me brushing every now and again, so they know mum does it too.

Make it fun
My kids LOVE it when they receive a new toothbrush. Let them choose the one they want, let them keep it in a special place. Hey, if an image of Elsa  or Nemo on a tooth brush is going to do the trick, then why not! My son especially loves watching himself in the mirror brushing his teeth. Also, there’s some fun apps or simple You Tube videos out there which help kids brush their teeth – it’s basically just a fun way to time their brushing, making sure they brush for long enough.

Independent phase?
Got that child that wants to do EVERYTHING by themselves? Unfortunately, a young child brushing their teeth all by themselves means the teeth probably won’t get a thorough clean. Let them do it themselves, then offer to check and/or help once they’re done. “Such a great job, but oops, I see you missed a spot” will usually work.

The two-toothbrush hack
Mr or Miss Independent still not allowing you to “help them” with their brushing? Try the two-toothbrush method. One for child, one for parent. If your child just wants to hold on to the brush and chew on it, this is such a surprising but effective solution. The child uses their brush to hold and chew on, while the parent does the actual brushing.

If all else fails, I ask my children if they want “black teeth like pirates have.” …they normally open wide after that!

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