When you think back to your childhood, you probably don’t remember your oral hygiene routine being the highlight of your day. Having to stop what they’re doing, put down their toys and go and brush their teeth, certainly isn’t a popular activity for most children. Unfortunately, brushing your teeth isn’t something that can be avoided without harmful and costly consequences. So, what can you do when your child decides they detest brushing?
A good place to start is try to figure out why your child hates brushing their teeth. Knowing why, can give you a good indication of how you can encourage your child to brush without turning your family bathroom into a warzone! Some reasons could include:
- The sensation is strange
- The taste of toothpaste is unpleasant
- It takes too long
If you’re reading any of those bullet points and are thinking “that’s exactly it!” then continue reading to see some tried and tested solutions below.
The sensation is strange
Having a plastic instrument in their mouths, with bristles moving against their teeth and gums, is undeniably a strange sensation for any child. As long as the brushing isn’t forceful, you needn’t be concerned that it is causing pain, but it can certainly trigger a sensory-related reaction or sensitivity in some children. It could be uncomfortable or even tickly – try to ask your child how it feels when they brush their teeth.
In addition, it’s important to remember that baby teeth especially aren’t used to the exposure that an adult’s teeth have had. As adults, we are used to brushing, dental exams, drinking from glasses and using metal cutlery.
Children haven’t had the experiences that adults have, and sometimes it could purely be that your child just isn’t familiar with the sensation. There is a wide range of children’s toothbrushes on the market that may help. Softer bristles, a soft rubber coating or a smaller bristle head could help make the sensation less odd. Try a few different toothbrushes and see if it helps.
The taste of toothpaste is unpleasant
Mint is a taste widely enjoyed by most adults, but for kids, not so much! Minty toothpastes can sometimes taste too harsh to children, and the cooling effect that is a result of that peppermint paste can feel irritating to a child’s sensitive mouth. Luckily, children’s toothpaste can come in some crazy and appetizing flavours. From strawberry to bubblegum to chocolate (yes, chocolate!), there’s a flavour out there for even the fussiest of brushers. Encourage your child to choose their own flavour next time you shop – if the toothpaste is nice enough they may even enjoy brushing!
It takes too long
Standing still, doing a “grown-up” task for a whole four minutes a day can feel like an eternity to your little one. It’s much more fun to be causing mayhem than to look after your oral health, so the resolution for this is to make brushing more fun! Try singing a 2-minute song with your child, such as a few rounds of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or “Wheels On The Bus”.
You can even find children’s songs online specifically for singing whilst brushing their teeth! Other things to try can include making a contest out of brushing, like seeing whether your child can reach every tooth surface in two minutes. You can even try brushing your teeth with your kids and seeing who can brush their teeth in the best way.
A good oral hygiene routine should be encouraged and seen as a good thing to your child at all times, so remember not to use tooth brushing as a punishment or consequence when they misbehave. With the right approach, brushing could be seen as a fun experience, or even a bonding activity between you and your children.
It can also teach your child to take responsibility for their oral health. Make sure to praise them when they do well and encourage them to feel proud of themselves for having such healthy and clean teeth after every brushing session.
Don’t forget, children should still be having regular dental exams from the moment their first tooth appears. Make sure to book your child at least two exams per year, to keep cavities at bay and to ensure your child’s teeth are developing correctly.
If you’d like to speak to or book an appointment with one of our child-friendly dentists, get in touch with your local Oradent Dental Care practice today and one of our friendly receptionists can assist you.