Normally, my husband and I don’t have a hard time getting our daughter to comply with our requests. Recently we have hit a road block in the tooth-brushing department. Our preschooler simply didn’t want to brush her teeth and getting her to do it felt like we were pulling teeth. Good oral hygiene is important for everyone and it is especially important to build these habits in children when they are young. Here are some tips we used to help our daughter start brushing her teeth on a regular basis.
Take her shopping for a toothbrush
My husband and I go through toothbrushes like they’re made of water. Unfortunately, we have children who occasionally get into things and when we walk into the bathroom and our toothbrush is on the floor, we can’t help but be paranoid and wonder what disgusting place it may have visited in our absence (perhaps the toilet?). Because of this, we always bought the cheap, bulk packs of toothbrushes and never thought twice about it. We never realized how boring this must have been for our daughter until she got excited about a toothbrush when we were walking down the oral hygiene aisle at the store. From that point on, we have always let her choose her own toothbrush. She gets more excited about brushing her teeth if she’s got a bright pink Hello Kitty toothbrush than when she’s stuck with a boring white toothbrush.
Alternate toothpaste flavors
Our daughter gets bored with her toothpaste pretty quickly. She might love strawberry flavored toothpaste for the first few days, but then it gets old. My husband and I bought a few different tubes of children’s toothpastes in a variety of flavors. Every morning and every night, we let our daughter select the flavor she would like to use. This gives her some control in brushing her teeth by allowing her to make a decision on the flavor she would like. Plus, if she wants more than one, I can use it to help her get excited for the next time she brushes her teeth, “Oh! You want strawberry and orange? Well, let’s do strawberry now and before bed, you can use the orange one, okay?”
Make brushing your teeth a family activity
Brushing your teeth can be pretty boring for a preschooler. Just scrubbing your teeth for two or three minutes can feel like an eternity. I have found that it helps to make tooth-brushing a family activity. It gets a little cramped with myself and three kids packed into the bathroom, but it’s fun. We all have our toothbrushes and toothpaste and we make it a game, “I bet I can brush my teeth better than you!” Sometimes, we even hum songs to time how long we should brush our teeth for.
Find a friendly dentist
My daughter had her first teeth cleaning at the dentist’s office this summer. She really loved the dentist that worked with her and I used that to my advantage, reminding my daughter that the dentist wants to see her teeth happy and clean the next time we visit. I told my daughter that her dentist would be very sad if she had dirty and sad teeth when we visit next, and this seemed to encourage her to keep them clean.
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