Good oral hygiene is so very important and starts with brushing those very first teeth that appear from about 6 months of age. But what happens when your little one decides that they don’t like to have their teeth brushed and fight against learning to brush their own teeth as they get older?
First, it is important to understand why children are often reluctant brushers and then employ some expert tips and tricks to get them brushing and keep them brushing:
Why Are Children Reluctant To Brush Their Teeth?
Most commonly children shy away from teeth brushing because they have had an uncomfortable or painful experience. You or another adult may not have intended to cause discomfort but if this did happen, then a child can quickly become reluctant to having their teeth brushed in the future.
Another issue could be that they have a sensitivity issue and may not like the feel of the toothbrush or toothpaste against their teeth. This may also result in the need for sensory stimulation which makes them clamp down on the toothbrush.
A child who doesn’t want a parent to brush their teeth may just be exerting a little independence. This is not defiance but simply the need to take control of their personal care and hygiene.
Children gain a sense of security from routine and brushing at irregular times can make them feel insecure about the process and resist brushing.
They may also have difficulty with the process if they do not see mom and dad or siblings brushing their teeth.
Another common problem is that your child may simply not be physically ready to brush their own teeth. Brushing your teeth takes a lot of coordination and children may only be ready to perform this task from the age of 7 or 8 years. Brushing should be supervised until the child is successfully brushing on their own.
Understanding the reason behind a child’s reluctance to brush is often a good way to find the best solution to the problem. Below are 5 tips and tricks from the experts that will help overcome any issues that your child has with brushing their teeth.
1. Visit The Dentist
From their very first visit, a dentist will teach your child all about the importance of brushing and the correct way to brush their teeth. Your dentist will also identify any oral health problems or dental conditions that could be making brushing painful.
Sensitive teeth, gum disease or other dental problems could be the root cause of a reluctance to brush and getting the right treatment to ensure that brushing isn’t painful or uncomfortable will resolve the issue.
2. Get The Right Gear
Make sure that you use a toothbrush and toothpaste that are age appropriate.
A brush that is too big can hurt and damage the child’s mouth while some brands of toothpaste may cause the feeling of a burning sensation in the child’s mouth (even those created for children).
Remember to use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for children under the age of 8 years.
If you think your child has a sensory or sensitivity issue, change their toothpaste to one that is smooth instead of rough and ask your dentist about options for a toothbrush that is made of a different material.
If your child is a clamper, allow them to bite down on the toothbrush after brushing the bottom set and then again the top set. It should only take a few moments for them to release the brush and continue brushing.
3. Regular, Fun And Routine
Try brushing your child’s teeth at the same time every morning and night. Sing a little toothbrush song on your way to the bathroom that they can learn and sing along to or offer a non-food related reward for finishing.
Show your child what they look like in the mirror with a mouth full of foam. Have fun with the process and don’t try to rush it too much.
Learning in childhood is mostly achieved by copying the behavior of a parent or older sibling. So make brushing your teeth a family affair and get everyone in the home to brush together.
Take a doll and extra toothbrush along to the bathroom and let your child brush the doll’s teeth while you take care of their teeth.
5. An Issue Of Independence
If your child is flexing their independence muscle, let them brush their own teeth. Also, let them choose their own brush and toothpaste when you go shopping.
Keep in mind that while brushing teeth can be fun, the goal is clean teeth so you may need to gently and carefully brush after they are done to ensure that all areas are reached.
Although the teeth of a young child will be lost, it is is still essential to protect them from cavities and keep them in good health. Tooth decay can affect the budding adult teeth below the gums and poor oral health can lead to the poor overall health of a child.