The time spent brushing your children’s teeth is quality one on one time with your child, yet most parents rush through the experience or struggle to get the child to cooperate. Here’s some great advice from Dr. Crump about how to make the most of these minutes and make tooth brushing fun for both parent and child.
Be Present – Too often parents quickly train their children how to brush their teeth and then dismiss themselves from being present during tooth brushing; that’s truly unfortunate. Helping your child brush his/her teeth is a great chance for eye contact and connection with you child and after a busy day. It’s an opportunity to be involved in a common activity even if only for a brief period of time.
Age Appropriate Suggestions
- Get down on the floor with your child and lay your legs out into a V. Then lay your child down in that V so you can lean over them comfortably and see in his/her mouth. As you gaze down at your infant he/she will be gazing up at you.
- Often for a small child you can gain his/her cooperation simply by smiling, cooing, and exchanging fun babbling.
- Because infants are still in the process of getting their teeth, tooth brushing will be quick and simple.
- Look for the smallest child size tooth brush you can find with extra soft bristles.
- Again, get down on the floor with your child and let his/her head rest comfortably on the floor and position yourself so you can easily see into the mouth.
- Engage the child with fun songs toddlers enjoy: The Wheels on the Bus, Pat a Cake, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, The Entsy Wentsy Spider, etc.
- If the child is fussy it is helpful to have the child do hand motions to the song or involve the other parent to distract and engage the child.
- Smile to reinforce to that tooth brushing is a positive experience.
Preschool- Early Elementary Aged Children
- With you sitting and your child standing encourage your child to open wide so you can brush all surfaces of the teeth.
- Play the Crump children’s favorite game: I See What You Ate Today.
Game Instructions: To begin this game of make believe act surprised and tell your child you see something WAAAY in the back of his/her throat. Start describing the item(s): color, shape, sounds, etc. Almost universally kids will start to giggle and open wider so you can get a better look. Be creative, the crazier the items you tell them you see the more fun this game becomes. In no time, all the tooth brushing is done and everyone is laughing and smiling.
Dr. Crump’s kids have been known to eat the craziest things: Thomas the Train, Mickey Mouse, cars, bikes, the whole playground, their school, airplanes, etc.
- Begin to educate the child regarding the various areas and surfaces of the teeth that need brushing. “Now we’re going to brush the top teeth. Ok, next is the bottom teeth in front,” etc. If you move through the mouth in the same order every time the child will learn the pattern and be more likely to brush all areas when he/she begins brushing alone.
Mid Elementary Aged
- Continue to remain present while your child brushes his/her teeth, but let them do the brushing.
- Supervise to ensure that all surfaces of the teeth are brushed and are brushed for an adequate amount of time.
- Praise and encourage good brushing. A well deserved high five, hug, or pat on the back will give your child confidence in his/her oral hygiene skills.
Tooth brushing in a great chance for both parents and children to spend a few minutes of time together at the end of the day and there are many ways to bring laughter and smiles into the experience. Additionally, when parents make time to brush their child’s teeth, he/she is taught proper brushing techniques and learns the importance of good oral hygiene.
Dr. Crump and his staff are amazing with children of all ages and would be happy to see you and your children. Schedule your appointment today!
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