Halloween has come and gone, you may think that you are in the clear now when it comes to your little ones teeth being inundated with sugar. But its not just Halloween, unfortunately Christmas candy canes are just around the corner, then there is Valentines sweets, and Easter eggs, and Birthday cakes! Lets face it, everywhere you look these days there is sugar lurking, often in products that are marketed directly at our sponge-like little ones.
Now your probably thinking I’m going to continue down the path of writing about nutrition or diet, but I’m going to save that for the experts and your own moral compass on what crosses your babes lips. Being the daughter of a dentist, sometimes I feel like my best defence, is to be the Defender of the Tiny Teeth.
Anyone who has begun the adventure of cleaning their child's teeth knows that this simple task can turn into a real ordeal. Whether your little one suddenly has lock jaw or transforms into a wrestling champion, you know that this daily chore can take precious time and energy.
Here are my “simple seven” top tips to help make for a smooth, polished brushing tonight! Remember- as soon as you can see them… you need to be cleaning them!
1. Begin early! Having your child get used to opening their mouth, having you navigate around inside and learn about the importance of cleaning inside their mouth sets the stage for a great oral health future! A finger brush like the Green Sprouts Silicone Finger Toothbrush allows you to slip your finger inside the toothbrush to softly brush gums and areas were teeth are just beginning to show through. My first born loved this gum massage when he was teething. This is done without the added crusader of toothpaste.
2. As teeth emerge, use a soft, child sized toothbrush. Allowing them to choose from a selection at the store can make them excited to use their new toothbrush. If your brush is too big, it will add to the struggle and not necessarily do a better job. Often the dentist or local health clinic has free child toothbrushes. Toothpaste at this point will be about the size of a grain of rice.
3. Be a “brush buddy”. My kids LOVE it when I brush along side of them. I talk through my foaming mouth with directions like: “bottom right, done just right” “flip your brush, clean out the mush” or “get those smile teeth shinning, more scrubbing!” I open wide and use the mirror, to show them by example what needs to be done.
4. Involve them in the FUN! Let your child play with the toothbrush. Show them how to use it to brush a favourite teddy's teeth or your teeth (with your toothbrush). Let them do the brushing, show them that it is a fun activity that everyone needs to do. We always conclude our brushing with “inspection time”. This is where I get in there and do the brushing. Many children will need assistance to do a good job for a long time—I’m talking years people (Ugh, I know! But remember, your attitude about brushing will be absorbed by them!)
5. Use a timer. It could be an egg timer, the duration of a fun song you sing, a countdown on your stopwatch or cell phone. Ideally try to make brushing last at least 1.5 to 2 minutes. This will feel like a very long time if this is a new concept to you. It gets easier. We love the toothbrush that lights up for 90 seconds, it s a very clear visual that my kids easily understand. They also have enjoyed selecting the ring tone that will sound off on the cell phone timer at the 90 second mark.
6. Create a storey around your brushing routine. This could be hunting for the "sugar bees" that were left behind by the birthday cake, or cleaning up the muddy mess left behind from eating meatball mountain for dinner. If your child is particularly interested in a certain toy, story or character… incorporate it!
7. Distraction—your ultimate friend! Brush those little pearly whites while your baby is distracted by a book, silly dancing sibling, intently playing with a toy, in the tub or otherwise.
Use these tips tonight to help create a stressless cleaning experience. Above all, don’t make brushing a negative experience. You are setting the stage for an important life long personal hygiene skill. Use your best ninja moves to get the job done and have some fun while you are at it!