There are just some battles no one really talks about when it comes to parenting. And one of those is brushing your kids teeth (and another is clipping toe nails and finger nails, as well as doing hair, but I’ll save those for another day). You think it should be pretty simple to move a brush around a kids teeth for a minute or two, and keep their oral hygiene intact. But, kids don’t always cooperate do they? They’ll chomp down on the brush, chew the brush to death in about a month’s time, and complain that they want to brush their teeth and not have you do it as soon as they develop any amount of independence. Sometimes they run away, hide, and/or completely refuse to brush their teeth at all. Statistics show that 90% of moms have even admitted to using extreme measures to ensure kids brush their teeth, such as giving ultimatums, bribing with gifts, or taking away TV time. I haven’t gone to such measures, but I know that brushing teeth can be a battle!
So, here are some tips I have learned over the last five years when it comes to brushing children’s teeth:
1) Mom and Dad get to brush first.
Make it a rule that your child can brush their own teeth, but only after mom or dad has done the initial brushing. This means they will get a good clean, but still get their way. Win-Win!
I was recently given some awesome light-up Firefly toothbrushes to review, and one of the things I have done with my 2 year old son, is tell him that he can have his turn to brush once the toothbrush changes color from green to yellow. Not only do I get to make sure his little teeth get a good cleaning, and he can be happy and brush his own teeth too, but I’m teaching him some colors! Yeah!
2) New toothbrushes are exciting!
If your child is getting tired of brushing their teeth, try buying them a new toothbrush. There are so many character toothbrushes out there on the market (Angry Birds, Hello Kitty, Star Wars, Marvel and more available from Firefly), or electronic ones, or of different colors. So, if you want to get them excited to brush their teeth, it often just means buying them a new toothbrush for a few bucks. Several times we have bought them new brushes, and they couldn’t wait to open the packages and get to brushing, even wanting to brush in the morning (which we are horrible at – just being honest here!) or other times during the day.
The new toothbrushes we got from Firefly made our children very excited! We got two of their new StarWars toothbrushes that light up like light sabers, and they absolutely love them. They pretty much ran around the whole house the first day we had them, lighting them up, sword-fighting, and shutting the bathroom door with the lights off so they could see them glow.
While I’m not sure how I feel with toothbrushes turning into playthings (and have since shelved the light-saber brushes), my children sure are excited to use them when it is time to actually brush their teeth. And that is a huge win.
3) Use less toothpaste.
I was surprised to learn recently at a local WIC event the amount of toothpaste you actually need to use with young children! I had been using way more than I needed to be with my children before this. So, I’ve been scaling down with how much I squeeze onto their brushes, and they can still get a good lather, but without extra dripping down their front or drowning them in extra paste. This can be helpful when your child really doesn’t like the taste of the toothpaste.
4) Teach, teach, teach.
Learning to properly brush, floss, and use mouthwash on your own takes a lot of practice. Years of practice. So, even though your toddler thinks he can handle this tooth brushing thing, you need to keep reinforcing and teaching the correct way to brush your teeth! Show them by brushing your own teeth, using mirrors so they can see how they are doing, and reminding them to get their front, sides, and top teeth all the same. Setting a timer, or using brushes that have built-in timers, like the Firefly ones we just got (you keep brushing until the light turns red or turns off), can help your child know that they need to brush longer, and do a better job.
We used “training toothpaste” past our children’s second birthdays because they just didn’t understand how to spit yet. Teaching a child how to spit is an important skill when it comes to oral hygiene! We were given some Firefly mouthwash – Hello Kitty style – and taught them how to swish the mouthwash around their mouths and then spit it out, encouraging them to swish it around as long as they can. We haven’t used mouthwash for them before, but are excited that it will help them get a little better clean, in case they miss a few spots while brushing. They love the mouthwash, and being able to squirt out their swishing portion each night.
5) Explain why
I also find it helpful to explain why it is important to brush, floss, or rinse your mouth with mouthwash. Kids are inquisitive! If you unfortunate like me, you can open your mouth and show off some fillings and cavities to your children and explain that if they don’t brush their teeth, they can get cavities! And if you get cavities, you have to have to see the dentist who is going to drill out the cavity and fill it. You can also talk about how it helps their breath stay fresh, and their mouth feel clean. And how if they have bad teeth or gums it can affect their overall health sometimes too. While I don’t really like using “scare tactics” with my children, it can be helpful to explain why we brush our teeth.
As this post was sponsored by Firefly® and One2One Network (though all opinions are my own), I wanted to let you know about their awesome May the Fourth LEGOLAND #BrushBattle sweepstakes going on right now, May 1-June 30, 2015. The grand prize winner will receive up to four round-trip airfare tickets to go to the Legoland theme park in California, and hotel accommodations for up to three nights (an ~$3000 retail value). So “May the Fourth” be with you! Enter HERE on Firefly’s Facebook page.
What tips do you have to better manage the toothbrushing battles with your kids?