Kids’ oral care accessories are typically garish and emblazoned with annoying characters—although there’s (a bit) more to the toothbrush design than just marketing manipulation.
Responsibilities, for the most part, suck. But get done they must, no matter how soul-destroyingly banal. Like taking out the garbage. Or teaching your kid to brush his teeth. When it comes to achieving the latter, coercion is obviously not the ideal; but neither are cavities, dental bills, and halitosis. So how do you impart the importance of dental hygiene and encourage enthusiasm for the most mundane of tasks without making every morning and night a tear-stained, spit-flinging palaver?
“Don’t make it an activity that you do to them. It needs to be something that they do for themselves,” emphasises Dr. Joseph Castellano, president-elect of the American Academy of Paediatric Dentistry.
Of course, brushing your baby’s teeth is a necessity–not only because they’re clearly incapable of coordinating neck control, never mind a toothbrush, but also because brushing establishes a routine and familiarises your little one with the exercise.
With older kids, however, it’s essential to have them hone the actual skill of brushing themselves (they’ll have to do this gig solo for a looong time).
You can help them along with wider handled brushes for an easier grip, but from that point on, it’s in their hands (literally).
Also–“Allowing them to choose their toothbrush — whatever colour or character it is on it — or perhaps even a toothpaste, it’s encouraging to them: ‘I’m being independent. I’m doing things on my own,’” says Castellano.
Your next step is to demonstrate immeasurable patience and empathy. You may not feel those things–especially when it’s ten past bedtime and your child is still pretending to brush their eyeballs (or butt)–but you just need to show patience and empathy, because, developmentally, teethbrushing is no mean feat for a little one–proper technique, not swallowing, keeping the brush moving…you get the complicated picture.
Castellano suggests giving your child a small stuffed animal or doll to practice the motions. But they always learn best from their big pals. Says Castellano, “You can do the ‘tell show do’: Look, we’re gonna brush our teeth. This is how I brush my teeth. You copy me. Keep it light, keep it fun.”
As to the finer technical stuff, keep the routine to morning and night, two minutes at a time. And keep it lighthearted and fun; kids take forever to get teethbrushing down, so for the next couple years, you’ll be coaching every day. Might as well paste a pearly white smile on your face.
Cutting that first pearly white is an exciting milestone for your tot – but what exactly do you do to take care of the single little chopper – if anything?
Most parents know that sugar is the sworn enemy of kids’ gnashers – and that apart from avoiding the sweet stuff (yeah, right) the best line of defence is regular brushing. But according to research from University College London, mums and dads are less clear about just how often they should be implementing the toothbrush patrol.
A recent US survey found that a whopping 76 percent of women suffer from oral health problems during pregnancy, such as bleeding gums or toothaches – yet not all the mums-to-be are taking action.
The research, which also reveals that 43 percent of pregnant women are skipping out on out dental appointments, sites cost as the biggest reason behind such a poor utilisation of professional oral treatment. Understandably so; the United States has the most expensive healthcare in the world. Continue reading