Everyone knows the importance of dental hygiene, but it can be hard to convince our children that cleaning their teeth is worth it. As adults, most of our dental upkeep is motivated by fear borne of experience – maybe if you floss regularly the dentist won’t have to use that big spike thing next time, and brushing right down to the gum line might avoid any agonising drilling.
Children haven’t experienced the agony of a root canal, so they don’t see the point of stopping what they’re doing to clean their teeth. Fair enough.
[Read More: 7 steps to combat fear of the dentist]
To inspire her daughter to clean her teeth, one mum decided to create a fake dentist’s office at home, reported The Mirror. Hannah Woodman explained that she starts off by telling her daughter to wait in the waiting room, then calls her into the bathroom, where she counts her teeth – getting her assistant (husband) to make notes. She brushes them, while talking about how great they look, and when finished, her daughter goes back out and pretends to pay at reception. “It may not work for everyone but it’s transformed our evening routine,” the mum said. “It’s totally stress free!”
This is obviously adorable, but it sounds extremely labour-intensive: an elaborate fantasy scenario, a cataloguing system and detailed role play. Teeth are important, so if it works, go for it, but there are easier options out there.
They’re easy, right? Suggestions of teeth cleaning hacks in the parenting world include keeping a calendar in the bathroom to put a sticker on after every teeth-cleaning session, creating positive reinforcement.
A lot of kids’ electric toothbrushes come with timers, so you can kind of “gamify” the whole thing. Some parents struggle with their kids either grabbing the toothbrush or clamping their teeth down on it – giving them another toothbrush to hold can help. Yes, it really can be that simple.
There are various apps, some of which work in concert with other products – the Blippar app, for instance, scans children’s Colgate products and provides augmented-reality animations. Chompers is a podcast that comes out twice a day and is specifically designed for teeth-cleaning youngsters. It’s two minutes of songs, stories and jokes that can quickly become a part of your morning and evening routine.
I’ve got an 18-month-old daughter and we just have a song (“We’re gonna brush, brush, brush our teeth today” is a snippet). I’m sure she’ll soon get a bad attitude and reject all attempts to clean her teeth, but at the moment I just hold her and sing the song I farted out one day. It’s split into quadrants, for left-upper, left-lower, etc, because I’ve overthought it all – and then there’s a big flashy outro where I do some jazz-style scatting and clean her front teeth. If anyone I ever went to school with heard it, I’d obviously have to go into hiding, but my daughter’s teeth look wonderful.