I am proud to say that I have all my own teeth at the age of 65. While that may not sound unusual to some people, everyone in my family who is my age or older wears dentures. I always tell people that that flossing is the key to good dental health. I have arthritis in my hands, but I don't let it keep me from flossing every day. My trick is to use those little "flossers" you can buy at the drug store. They have plastic handles floss stretched out on top of the handle. These make flossing easier on days when my arthritis is acting up. I started this blog to let other people know that they can keep their teeth healthy into old age when they take care of them. If you have hand pain, find ways to make flossing easier, like I did.
Teaching your toddler to brush his or her teeth (or outright doing it yourself) can be a tough task. However, regular brushing is critical for keeping your toddler's mouth healthy while their baby teeth continue to emerge. Make brushing more exciting for your little one by using one or more of these fun tips!
1. Sing a Song
Dedicate a song to brushing teeth, and only sing that song while your toddler is brushing (or you are brushing your toddler's teeth). By having a special song that you sing only during this brushing, you can help get your toddler excited for that time of day. For example, sing "The Wheels on the Bus" as you or your child move the toothbrush over their teeth in circles. "Pop Goes the Weasel" works well also, and you can have your child spit out their toothpaste or water when you sing "Pop!" Make sure to sing enough verses of the song to last for two minutes -- the generally accepted length of time to brush a child's teeth.
2. Brush Your Teeth Too
Young children love watching their parents do things, and they learn a lot this way too. When it's time to brush your toddler's teeth, consider brushing your teeth too. You can brush your teeth first and let your child watch you, and then follow by brushing theirs. If your toddler is good at brushing his or her own teeth, you can brush your teeth together. Not only will your toddler learn healthy dental care habits, you can kill two birds with one stone and take care of your own teeth at the same time!
3. Use Hand Puppets
Make brushing more fun for your child by incorporating a hand puppet. You can purchase one, or you can even make one by sewing buttons for eyes and yarn for hair onto an old sock that you plan on throwing away. Have the puppet sing your special brushing song, or use your child's dry toothbrush to "brush" the puppet's teeth. Give your puppet a name, and let him or her only come out when it's time to brush. Your child will love having a new "friend" to brush their teeth with every day!
4. Let Your Child Choose Their Toothbrush
It's easy to buy a toothbrush for your child, but if you have a toddler that is expressing their individuality and independence, you can make brushing more fun by letting them choose their own toothbrush. Of course, you may not want your toddler to be able to choose between 20 or more toothbrushes, so select a few and let your child choose among the ones you have already "pre-approved." When your child gets to select a toothbrush that they like the best, it can encourage them to brush their teeth more often.
5. Make Your Own Flavored Natural Toothpaste
Although there are many commercial toothpastes that are designed with children in mind, the flavors can still be a bit unappetizing for a little one. Consider making your own natural toothpaste with fun flavors like orange cream, strawberry, or another favorite flavor. Plus, ingredients like bentonite clay and essential oils are safer for a child than many of the ingredients in commercial toothpastes.
By getting creative, you can make brushing more exciting for your child, and encourage healthy dental care habits. Discuss other ways to make brushing more fun for your toddler with a pediatric dentist, and be sure to visit your child's dentist every 6 months or as recommended for an exam and cleaning to ensure your child's teeth are healthy and developing normally.