How to Get Kids to Brush their Teeth

As a mother raising five kids I have struggled with ways to get them to brush their teeth.
Three of my kids are now adults with two in their tweens and early teens. I also have a four-year grandson and one-year-old granddaughter, whom I babysit often (so much for thinking I was past dealing with toddlers). So, as you can gather, yes, I might have the experience, but it’s been a while since I had to teach my little ones to brush their teeth. Would you believe that it’s not just little ones you have to make sure their teeth are being looked after with regular brushing? Yes, I’m ashamed to say that I have problems with my youngest two children. My daughter will be 12 next month and she isn’t so bad at her dental hygiene. But there are times when I have to remind her (remind is a nice way of putting it) to brush her teeth. My 14-year old son, on the other hand, is just gross – yep I said it. The number of times I nagged, yelled and nagged him about his hygiene is not funny. He loves nothing more than to sleep in, until the very last minute before it’s time to go to school, which of course gives him no time to brush properly if at all. I didn’t have this problem with my first three kids. They have always had great hygiene.

Lazy Parenting

I know what you must be thinking – it’s our fault as parents. And you probably wouldn’t be completely wrong. But I guess after not having to worry about my oldest kids looking after their own hygiene, I suppose I got lazy. At 50 and having five children with big gaps on either side, I have been doing this a very long time. And sometimes I just expect my youngest kids to be responsible for their own hygiene – you know being 12 and 14. So where did I go wrong? How do I encourage my youngest children to brush their teeth morning and night without having to nag all the time? Teenagers just LOVE nagging Mums. So much so that they tend to dig their heels in and do the opposite. My kids do go to the dentist regularly, so I do somethings right (sometimes).

“So where did I go wrong?”

Problems Caused by Lack of Brushing

I guess I wasn’t quite on the ball with my youngest children as I was with my oldest, even when they were little. (Again, sometimes I’m just over it, ha). But I can tell you from experience how important it is to teach your children to brush their teeth. Both kids had to have dental treatment done at young ages to the point of being knocked out. Riley had three back baby teeth removed as one decay went across three teeth. And my little girl, who was about 5 or 6 had to have quite a lot of work done. This was within 6 months of her last visit to the dentist (her baby teeth were susceptible to decay). Although, this ended having a bright side as it happened at just the right time. She had lost her two top baby teeth, so the timing was perfect. The Specialist Children’s Dentist told us that she had the front part of her gum (I think it’s called the labial, but don’t quote me) needed to be cut away or her new teeth would grow with a big gap between them. This would mean she would need braces later. So, with fixing her cavities, capping a few of her back-baby teeth and treating the gum problem, oh and don’t forget the cost of surgery, hospital and the specialist we were out of pocket $3000. I regret that she had to go through that at such a young age. But her teeth are as straight as they come now. Yay, no braces. It still doesn’t take away from the fact that she needed the other work done. So, my point being, keep getting your kids to brush their teeth.

Ways to get kids to brush their teeth

After telling you my story with my youngest children, you know how important it is to find ways to get your little ones to brush their teeth every day, morning and night. Once they get in the habit at a young age, it will be something they won’t think twice about as they get older. They won’t turn into lazy teenagers who couldn’t be bothered to look after their teeth (sorry to tell you this but they will still be lazy – especially when you want them to clean their rooms or do their chores). You don’t want to be that nagging Mum or Dad, well not about their teeth brushing anyway. Especially, when you are having a conversation with them after school and you just want to cringe when you can see they haven’t brushed their teeth – again.

Tricks to making teeth brushing fun

This one I had to do some research on as it’s been so long since I’ve had to use any tricks for little kids. I did talk to my daughter and she did remind me of some of the things I used to do as she now does the same with her toddlers.

  1. Make sure you only use baby toothbrushes and toothpaste
  2. Let them know that they are a big girl/boy for brushing their own teeth with their very own toothpaste.
  3. Put some paste on the brush and just give it to them, they will put it in their mouth (this might only work with kids from when first cut their teeth to about two)
  4. Get them to mimic you, brush your teeth while they are brushing theirs.
  5. Reward them afterwards, of course not with sweets.

Here are some ideas I found on the Colgate site.

  • Give your child a toothbrush to play with. Let him brush his stuffed animal or doll’s teeth while you brush his.
  • Let your child brush your teeth. (Don’t forget to do it again yourself later.)
  • Cheer with each tooth brushed: “Tooth number eight is clean and shiny!” Then give an enthusiastic “Woohoo!”
  • Download a fun app. “Brush DJ” plays two minutes of music (the recommended time for brushing) while the brusher races against the clock to get a clean mouth before time is up. “Star Teeth” allows kids to pick a character who encourages them while they brush.

I love the app idea. They didn’t have these 10 years ago.

Have Regular Dental Check-ups

  I hope you learn from my mistakes – don’t get lazy, no matter how many kids you have (even if you are ancient like me). Keep teaching your babies to brush their teeth so it becomes a natural everyday thing. Find fun ways to get kids to brush their teeth when they are little. And most important, take your kids to the dentist regularly, every six months.