Any parents out there will know that getting children to brush their teeth can sometimes be challenging. Parents are encouraged to brush their children’s teeth from the minute the tiny milk teeth arrive, and anyone who has tried to inset a toothbrush into an unwilling baby’s mouth while it is clamped firmly shut will agree that juggling with jelly is probably easier.
The importance of establishing good dental health routines is crucial, though, as new research shows. A recent study from the University of Cardiff has found that one in seven toddlers has tooth decay. The researchers analysed 1,400 parents and 25% failed to start brushing their children’s teeth from a young age. The author of the study, Maria Morgan, said: “People don’t realise that you should start that early. We are having some children at five, six or seven who are having five, six, seven, eight, nine teeth removed in one go.”
Although we understand it’s not easy to start this routine, as babies grow into toddlers and then into small children, things should improve. If you’re still finding resistance, here are some helpful hints and tips to help your children establish a good oral routine from an early age.
Make it a shared activity
Brushing your teeth at the same time your child is brushing their teeth is a great idea. Children love to mimic their parents, so if they can watch you doing it, they are more likely to want to have a go themselves. A lot of young children also like looking at themselves in the mirror, so why not sit with them in front of a mirror while they’re brushing too.
It doesn’t have to be serious
Dance around, hum while you’re brushing, have a race to see who can brush the fastest for 20 seconds… anything you can do to make the tooth brushing fun and entertaining will certainly appeal more to your little ones than standing over them in the bathroom nagging them to clean their teeth.
A little treat every now and again can help
Although we wouldn’t recommend bribing children to brush their teeth, setting up a rewards-based plan for slightly older children could work nicely. If they get a full week’s worth of tooth brushing points then maybe this could be rewarded with a weekend treat to celebrate how well they have done.
Here at CK Dental practice in Bristol we want all parents to be aware that children’s dental hygiene is no different from adults, they should be brushing their teeth at least twice per day for around two minutes per go. If you can get a routine established with your children nice and early this should help ensure that tooth brushing is something they regard as a normal and necessary part of their daily routine.