Every parent knows that children aren’t always the most co-operative. And when it comes to getting them to do something new or that they don’t want to do they can be particularly resistant, whether it’s putting on shoes or getting them to take a bath.
In fact, new research conducted by Europe’s largest dental treatment provider mydentist, has revealed that 30% of parents struggle with getting their children to brush their teeth, rating it more difficult than getting them to wash or dress themselves.
Steve Williams, clinical services director at mydentist, commented: ‘Parents should teach their kids about the importance of oral hygiene as early as possible; brushing baby teeth as soon as they start to appear and supervising children as they get older until they are at least eight years old.
‘This will give them the best possible start and will get them used to the sensations. The trick is to make it a positive experience. If brushing your teeth becomes a regular and fun thing to do then children will be far more eager to take part. It’s essential that parents instil good brushing habits from an early age by highlighting the importance of making sure all areas are cleaned including between the teeth, and encouraging them to brush for two minutes, which can often seem like a long time.
‘But it’s also important to remember that brushing isn’t enough - parents also need to think about what their children eat by limiting sugar and ensuring they have a healthy and balanced diet.’
If you’re a parent and scratching your head over how to get your child to brush their teeth, here are some top tips taken straight from parents who
took to reddit to reveal how they fought the battle themselves!
Dentists will always advocate starting as early as possible when getting your kids accustomed to the process of brushing their teeth. Often it can be as simple as handing them a baby toothbrush for them to chew on – anything that gets them used to the feeling.
Jacques Noir – ‘We started really early. Gave our daughter a baby toothbrush before she even had any teeth. Naturally it went straight in her mouth and she’d chew on it. It got her used to the feeling of having it in her mouth. Since then it’s never been a struggle at all; she actually enjoys brushing her teeth!
‘When they hit about one and a half to two, we’d have them play with the toothbrush to encourage them to put it in their mouth. Then we’d encourage them to brush their own teeth morning and night with us, mimicking our actions. After a month or two we’d introduce a mild toothpaste and start teaching them to brush their teeth in a pattern (front, side, top of the side, etc.). By about four they only really needed moderate supervision to make sure they take their time and don’t mess around. By about six they were brushing their teeth confidently with little supervision.’
Being a copycat
Kids copy their role models, like mum and dad or an older sibling, and mydentist’s research showed that 37% of parents brush their teeth alongside their children to encourage them to follow suit.
01-__-10 – ‘We made it a group activity so if they don’t do it they feel left out. They all do it without a fuss now. The youngest (14 months) absolutely loves it!’
Jedichop – ‘My son is 16 months old and he has a training toothbrush – we do it twice a day. It works because he is going through a phase right now where he loves to do everything dad does and so when I brush my teeth, he wants to brush, too.’
Making a game of it
If there’s one thing that kids love, it’s playing games. So, why not make brushing their teeth fun? If they enjoy themselves they’re more likely to associate brushing with positive feelings. Research by mydentist showed that making the routine more fun was a common tactic used by parents. Some of their methods included using a song (14%), sticking stars on a reward chart (14%) and using a fun toothbrush (24%).
Kenwenot – ‘It took a while but once you nail down the playing of “clean the tiger teeth” it makes it easier. It also helps that she loves tigers and I keep showing her “clean tiger teeth”.’
Sometimes, you have to get tough, and often showing children what could happen if they don’t do something can be most effective. 26% of parents said they told their children their teeth would fall out if they didn’t brush.
eek04 – ‘We threaten to not brush their teeth. Mind you, that threat has never been carried out. We’ve talked about how bacteria can be bad for their teeth, and showed pictures from the Internet - and then constructed teeth brushing as a favour we do for them. Now it’s something that they want to do.’