Toothbrush battles: What are your tricks?
I'm getting lots of emails from dentists and toothbrush makers to alert readers that February is National Childrens Dental Health Month. Not that we need a special month, but it is a good time to revist this often-fought battle.
What happens when nagging doesn't work and ignoring the tantrum doesn't work? I say, making it fun is about the best defense. Here's some of my tricks and tips.
Make a fool of yourself. For toddlers, who have learned the new power of the word "no" you have to suspend all dignity. My favorite trick was to take turns. Give him the brush and say "Your turn," and then wait about 10-15 seconds with a passive face. Then get wide eyed and
say "My turn!" and make an idiot of yourself with scrunched faces and weird noises as you root around their mouth with the toothbrush. Just as they start to giggle, stop quickly and say "Your turn," and get a poker face be very very boring. Start to build back up with wide eyes before you explode with "My turn!" and keep doing that back and forth. Always remember the comic's rule and leave them wanting more.
Modeling Showing off good tooth brush behavior yourself can go a long way, so make a point of brushing and flossing together.
Make the toothbrush more fun. Battery powered spin brushes have come down in price and gotten a lot more fun with race car designs and Winnie the Pooh on them. Another one I have liked in the past is the Firefly brushes that have a nifty light up timer. Squeeze the end of the brush and it lights up and blinks like a firefly's tail for a full minute, the dentist-recommended time for kids to thoroughly brush each row of teeth.
Floss early and often. Stop lying to your dentist and do it. Flossing is one of those oral care habits that’s best learned early on. Flavored and colored flosses, or floss “picks” that are easy to maneuver are good ways for kids to start.
Baby teeth count. Dentists say that parents should begin brushing baby’s teeth the moment the first tooth erupts. Besides, it's never too early to introduce this daily habit. There are baby-sized toothbrushes, but I always liked the ones you slip over your finger, like this one at right.
So what are some of your tricks and tips to get kids into the habit? Spread the wealth of your experience, Mommas.
P.S. One of the many PR pitches sent to me for dental health month included Met Life's dental health information page, but I have to admit I spent more time on this Healthy Mouth Match-Up Game. I got to Level 3! (And told my boss I was doing research)
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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