From the moment you see the little flecks of white poking through their gums the realisation that as a parent, you are now also responsible for helping your children develop a positive approach to brushing and caring for their teeth begins.
For some that’s earlier than others. The age at which my four children got their first tooth varied from three months to eight months.
We all want to protect our children’s lovely smiles but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy does it?
With tooth brushing we can go through all sorts of stages and phases with our children including:
- The what on earth is that in my mouth phase
- The squeeze the cheeks to open their mouth phase
- The eating toothpaste phase
- The super enthusiastic brushing phase
- The toothbrush fascination phase
- The reluctant brusher phase
- The only brush one part of the mouth phase
- The lazy brusher phase
- The toothpaste is too spicy phase
- The effective brusher phase
- The I’ve got better things to do with my life than brush my teeth phase
How many do you recognise?
You can try all sorts of things to get through these phases with your children. The important thing to remember is that they are exactly that, phases – some won’t last very long at all.
You might want to try some or all of the following to help see you through all of these phases:
- Allowing your child to select their own toothbrush
- Buying an electric toothbrush – maybe one with princesses or Spiderman on?
- Letting them brush their teeth in the bath or shower, not always at the sink
- Trying different toothpastes
- Using an egg timer or phone app
- Dancing around singing a silly tooth brushing song
- Brushing for them
- Brushing your teeth at the same time
- Having a competition – who can brush the best?
- A star chart
- Stickers or other rewards
- Using a water flosser
There is loads of advice available online and your dentist with be able to help too, they normally have lots of tips and tricks to suggest. The Centre for Advanced Dentistry Yorkshire is just one of these. Make sure you register your children with a dentist from the age of two, so you can get them seen on a regular basis.
In Wales, we have a tooth brushing programme within schools and nurseries called Designed to Smile, which is a real bonus as children brush their teeth during school or nursery as well, so most children end up brushing three times a day.
Obviously, it isn’t all about brushing and we need to watch what goes into little mouths as well, so we don’t cause huge acid or sugar attacks on the teeth and that precious enamel.
What brushing phase are you in at the moment with your children?