With my toddler and I’s teeth brushing challenges, I decided to seek help and ask a professional what they’d do.
Dr. Mak is a paediatric dentist from Kits Family Dental in Kitsilano Vancouver. She gave me some great dental hygiene tips to help with my problem. I’ve used these techniques for a week now and I definitely see an improvement with our routine as well as my child’s attitude towards teeth brushing.
5 tips for brushing children’s teeth
Teeth Brushing for Kids Tip #1 – let them watch you brush your teeth
Dr. Mak reminded me children learn by observation and imitation. She suggested I let Elle watch me brush and floss my teeth and if she wants, let her brush her teeth at the same time. After she’s done, then it is my turn to brush for her, ‘to ensure there are no bugs left hiding on their teeth.’
Teeth Brushing for Kids Tip #2 – sing a song before brushing time
At Dr. Mak’s family dental office in Vancouver, she often sings to the kids to get them to open their mouths so she could brush their teeth. She suggested some easy teeth brushing songs that I can’t remember….so, I made a downloadable fun teeth brushing chart with words to the songs for easy reference.
Unfortunately for me, my very gifted child replaced the ‘brush brush brush your teeth’ lyrics with ‘no no no brush teeth’. Let’s just say I’ll celebrate her creativity.
Teeth Brushing for Kids Tip #3 – let the child pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste
Elle and I went to the drug store and she picked out her own tooth brush and tooth paste. She chose a pink bubble gum toothpaste and absolutely loves it. ‘It tastes like candy, mama’ she says.
Dr. Mak’s note about toothpaste usage is that ‘toothpaste containing fluoride should be used as soon as teeth erupt, so as young as 6 months old. Use a tiny smear pushed into the bristles of the toothbrush. If the child is unable to spit after brushing, use a cloth to wipe out the excess, but even if the child swallows the tiny smear of toothpaste, it will not be harmful to them.’ Good to know!
Teeth Brushing for Kids Tip #4 – strap them in….
For children who are too big and strong to control in the knee to knee position, Dr. Mak suggest brushing their teeth while they are in a feeding high chair. ‘Fasten the straps snugly over their chest, then brush away.’
Teeth Brushing for Kids Tip #5 – do fun things that teaches kids brushing their teeth can be enjoyable
This one here is my tip =) I’ve always believe experiences bonds and connects people and teeth brushing could be fun and promotes parent-child bonding.
With my toddler, I got her a cute book about a pony brushing his teeth, I showed her pictures of rotten teeth (scare tactic works!), I made her a fun teeth brushing chart (free download for you) and got her stickers as rewards….they are little things that makes it fun for a toddler to brush their teeth and makes the experience more enjoyable.
Here is part 3 to this blog series, my tips for brushing children’s teeth and making the experience fun and enjoyable.
if everything fails…
After all these tips, if your child still doesn’t co-operate, take them to see your family dentist. Dr. Mak said:
Often children behave much better in a different environment with new faces around. When parents bring their child in for their first visit, I will sing the child a song, brush and floss their teeth, and show the parents how to position their child in the “knee to knee” position. Many parents are surprised at how much I can get done with their child during that first visit.
Below is a video of Dr. Mak with a little patient in her paediatric dental office in Kitsilano Vancouver. See how calm and co-operative this little girl is? This is what I strive for when brushing Elle’s teeth.