"My child isn't the best at brushing his/her teeth," or, "My child won't let me help brush his/her teeth." These are very common statements we hear from many of our parents. When it comes to doing anything that requires them to stop what they are doing, children are notoriously stubborn, which holds particularly true for toddlers. That stubbornness - combined with a child's quest for independence - is a frustrating time for parents. So, what is a parent to do? Some quick tips:
Choose a consistent time to brush: Develop a consistent time of day in the morning and at night that will work for you and your child and try to stick to that time as much as possible. It might take a little doing, but eventually they will come to know the routine. Children are stubborn but they can and will adapt to new routines with a little perseverance from their parents.
Let your child pick out a fun toothbrush: With so many fun toothbrush choices, many of which have a familiar character on them, there's bound to be one that your child will like. Check the label for the appropriate age level, and be sure to choose soft bristles.
Sing a song or watch a favorite short video clip to help pass the time: The goal is to brush for 2 minutes, 2 times a day. Visit http://2min2x.org/ for helpful tips!
Develop a rewards system: Children respond well to rewards, no matter how small. A daily chart leading up to a reward is a great visual aid to help children track their progress.
Brush as a family: Children are more receptive if they don't feel singled out. Family brush time (or even if one other person is brushing) gives children a sense of inclusion.
Children need help brushing and flossing until age 8 or 9: In the early years, limited dexterity will hinder your child's brushing proficiency. Even after they develop the dexterity to brush, children will often rush through brushing and miss important areas. Have them brush first (and floss if applicable) and then you can step in and do the same.
What about flossing? We're glad you asked! As soon as your child has two teeth that touch, flossing will need to become part of the routine so that food particles are not remaining between teeth. That being said, even if your child has good spacing between his/her teeth, daily flossing is still beneficial...not only for gum health, but it also helps your child get used to the feeling of flossing.
Here is a link to a great article by the Mass Dental Society on the management of your child's oral health - WOM SummerFall 2017 Whos the Boss (1).pdf.
If you have any questions, please contact us at (781) 942-2020. In the meantime, keep brushing and flossing :)