Written by: Shani Fowler
When the little ones give us their best smile, offering a flash of those milk teeth, it would be difficult for the coldest of hearts not to melt- they look so cute! Encouraging kids to brush their teeth is so important. From the first little one that pops up and onwards – they need to be looked after properly. Not only to stop decay, but for good oral hygiene and healthy gums too and for them to realise the importance of looking after their second set of teeth – which as we all know won’t be replaced!
Quite often though, brushing teeth it isn’t on a child’s list of priorities. It is way behind watching cartoons, playing computer games and visiting play areas. They need persuasion and encouragement. To keep the interest (as with most things with children) it is best to introduce fun. Here’s how some things might help.
There are all sorts of children’s novelty tooth brushes to buy. If they can pick their own toothbrush it can make it all the more personalised. Give it a name too and let get them give Terry the Toothbrush a work out at least twice a day.
Make sure that they have toothpaste that they like. There are many different brands out there and different toothpastes for various ages. It is important that you find one that they actually like. If they dread the thought of brushing because they hate that particular taste, getting them to brush is going to make the task even harder.
Having a special sing song whilst brushing their teeth can be a great way to maintain interest. Something happy and jaunty can do the trick.
My mum plays dentists with my little boy when he stays over. She is the dentist and he is the dentist’s “perfect example” – showing the other children how it is done. He even tells them off for not watching (there’s no one really there Zak)!!
Remember – you are the toothy role model! If they see you rolling to bed with your teeth unbrushed they are likely to want to adopt the same attitude. Show them that’s why you have still got your teeth – because you have looked after them.
The old rewards system can pay dividends. If they brush their teeth twice a day you can put a star on a chart and at the end of the week (if there are fourteen stars there) they can have a treat – maybe a comic as opposed to sweets though – don’t want to undo the good!!
As children get older it is wise to educate them as to why it is important to have oral hygiene and what could happen if they don’t brush their teeth. Not only will their teeth look awful and have bad breath, but they will hurt too as they decay. If children are reluctant to listen to their parents about dental hygiene there are promotional videos and reading materials that they can be given.
Once children get into the habit and are aware of what can happen if they don’t brush their teeth, mostly they are willing to carry on. It may not be their overall favourite task in the world but as long as they are doing it that is the main. Regular brushing combined with regular visits to the dentist can set them up for a lifetime service from their teeth.