I think that I mentioned before that Easter has become the top-selling candy holiday, second only to Halloween. The thing about all of these sugary treats is that we parents need to be concerned about our kids’ teeth especially since tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease. Oral-B Stages (which I have purchased for my sons many times in the past) is trying to spread the word about the importance of children’s oral health, especially during this candy-filled season. Recently they held an event in NYC (that unfortunately didn’t fit in my schedule). There, Dr. Laura Jana, M.D., author and founder of Practical Parenting Consulting, LLC and mother of three kids, shared some great information on oral health and tips to help children brush which you can see below:
The following tips to make brushing fun were shared:
1. Brush your teeth with your child to set a good example. This also helps your child to learn by watching and imitating you.
2. Choose toothbrushes and toothpaste with popular kids’ characters, like Oral-B Stages, to help establish positive oral care routines with familiar friends like Winnie the Pooh or Disney Princesses.
3. Sing your child’s favorite song, such as “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” for two minutes to encourage brushing for the dentist-recommended time. For older children, play a song from their favorite pop singer for two minutes.
4. Making your child’s brushing routine fun will encourage proper habits early and help prevent oral care issues later in life.
(For more information please visit, www.oralb.com/kidscare.)
On a personal note, my (just turned) 2 year old son Sean has recently begun making teeth brushing time a battle – at times, he bites his dad and clenches his mouth shut when I try to brush his teeth. Fortunately, Dr. Jana had some great recommendations and tips for winning the toddler brushing battle…
1. Don’t ask “do you want to brush your teeth?” because 2-year-olds say “no” almost as a reflex. As a general parenting principle, if its not optional, don’t give the option to say no.
2. Treat tooth brushing as a matter of fact. If it’s not optional, then by approaching it as calmly and matter-of-factly as possible you reduce your child’s likelihood of arguing/whining/trying to get out of it.
3. Don’t unintentionally make it seem undesirable or like a punishment to brush teeth. Too often, parents treat it as if it’s not fun, which sets it up to be perceived that way by kids. Instead, treat it like a game, a fun activity, something you can do together, as a contest, etc.
4. Use the “bet you can’t” approach to tooth brushing toddlers……just like they automatically say no, they also automatically say “yes, I can!” Applied to tooth brushing, this could be: “bet you can’t brush longer than me!” or “you can’t really get ALL the teeth, can you?” In other words, motivate them to prove you wrong.
5. Acknowledge your child’s quest for independence…….let them brush their teeth if they want to do it all by themselves, just don’t forget to “check their work” afterwards. Remember that we know kids don’t technically do a good job of brushing their own teeth for many more years, but don’t make the mistake of assuming that you have to take away their opportunity to try (and think that they’re doing it themselves!).
6. Make it fun…..not only can you make it a game, sing a song, set a timer, etc., but getting the requisite supplies that appeal to your child’s tastes – both fun, appealing toothbrushes like the Oral-B Stages brushes and toothpastes with characters on them really can help make it fun. I’ve actually found that 2-year-olds like new toothbrushes and toothpaste as presents!
7. Remember that 2-year-olds want to be like adults. This not only means letting them “do it themselves” (but with your “checkup” afterwards, where you get to all the nooks and crannies and missed teeth), but also they like to use toothpaste. Under the age of two, you want to make sure you use one designed for this age (i.e. without fluoride like Oral-B Stages Baby Tooth & Gum Cleanser). After the age of two, you can let your child use fluoridated toothpaste, but A) don’t use more than a dab/pea-sized amount and B) start teaching them to spit out – just don’t rely on them to reliably spit….hence the small amount of recommended fluoride toothpaste.