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Niche Topics (Pregnancy and Kids) is all about practical parenting advice and parenting skills to help you deal with common parenting challenges from toddlerhood to teen years. You’ll find tons of healthy food ideas and easy-to-make kids meals, fun activity ideas and creative crafts projects that kids love to do and play!

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How to Get Kids to Brush Teeth




By Martha Sanders


If your kid screams, thrashes, kicks, twists away, clenches his mouth or even grab the toothbrush to throw away each time you try to brush his teeth, you're not alone.


Let's face it, this common conundrum – my child won’t brush his teeth – is one tough nut to crack when "Oral Hygiene" is obviously missing from his vocabulary. No worries, here are a few helpful tips that will get kids to brush teeth, and you don’t have to chase them around the house!


Fun Ways to Get Kids to Brush Teeth


1. Singing a little tune while you brush your kid's teeth will make it feel more like a game.


I sing my son the tune "Wheels on the bus" but change the lyrics to "This is the way you brush your teeth, brush your teeth, brush your teeth. This is the way you brush your teeth, early in the morning. This is the way you swish swish swish, swish swish swish, swish swish swish. This is the way you swish swish swish, early in the morning." The trick is to sing it ONLY during teeth brushing time. So, he'll look forward to the song and this will get him to brush teeth.




2. Kids are great emulators. They want to do things that you do. If your kid watches you brushing and flossing your teeth, and adopting good oral habits, he's likely to follow. Let him watch you brush your teeth from an early age and also, brush your own teeth alongside him.




3. Reward your kid a star for every time he brush his teeth. When he achieved, say ten stars, he'll get a small reward such as a trip to the zoo or a nice picture book. Never ever reward kids with sweet treats.




4. Always keep your cool and praise your kid when he lets you brush his teeth. Remember, pressure meets with hopeless resistance. The winning strategy is, start with tiny steps and then work your way up slowly.



On one night, brush just the front teeth, and praise him for letting you do so. Then the next night, add another side, and so on until you win his complete cooperation. The secret is to set a routine, praise and reward when he cooperates and preserve. Once a kid has a fixed schedule and knows what to expect each time, the resistance should fade eventually.




5.There are numerous good kiddy books that touch on the issue of oral hygiene, I suggest you get a copy. You and your kid can read together and when your kid sees colorful pictures of other kids brushing teeth, your kid is likely to learn from them.


Then, you can give your kid a clean toothbrush without any paste on it, and get junior show you what the kids in the books are doing. Alternatively, you can  put on a puppet show with a lovable character demonstrating proper teeth brushing techniques.



6.Take your kid to the store and have him pick his toothbrushes and toothpaste (such as Disney Princess for little girls, Winnie the Pooh for the boys). Or, buy your kid a fun electric toothbrush. There are dozens of snazzy choices on the market and kids can select their favorite colors and cartoon characters.

Electric toothbrushes are actually more effective than standard toothbrushes, and kids just love using them! If this novelty wear off, move on to musical toothbrushes. They cost around $9.99, a small price to pay but if you're desperate, it's worth an investment. My son uses a toothbrush with flashing lights – the light flashes when he has brushed for a full minute – and it's really helpful as I know exactly when the one  minute is up.

When buying toothpaste, avoid the fluoride pastes until your kid is two years old or until your pediatrician says your kid is ready. Many young children like the taste of toothpaste and swallow, or are unable to spit – either way, they end up ingesting too much fluoride.

Excessive amounts of fluoride can lead to flourosis which will discolor teeth. Never apply toothpaste more than the size of a green pea.



7. Try offering some choices. Let your kid choose from two special toothbrushes. See if he'd like to brush teeth on his own first, with you brushing second, or vice versa. Brush before or after a bath? With a bit of control, he may be more manageable.



8. Many parents find more success brushing their kid’s teeth while kids are taking a bath. Many young kids won't stand still long for a proper tooth brushing so brushing teeth in bath gives a better chance of him remaining still enough and makes it part of the cleaning routine.

If you're just getting your kid used to tooth brushing, this can be an initial step. Unless your kid takes two baths in a day, you’ll still need to work out the additional brushing sessions.




9. If getting your child to open his mouth is somewhat like a big wrestling match, then try this tickle trick. With every tickle, he opens his mouth wide open and that gives you a good opportunity to put his toothbrush in. Now, tooth brushing has become a game and not a chore to junior. This works like a charm for me every time!




10. Make a game out of brushing. In his room, challenge your kid with "I'll race you to the bathroom and see who brushes first!". Set a timer with a loud buzzer in the bathroom, then race to brush every tooth before it sounds...kids love to win so be sure to "lose" every challenge!




11. If your child still refuses to brush teeth, try going to a different room or change the person who brushes the teeth. You can get your kid invite his "special" friend like a teddy to the bathroom to watch as he brushes his teeth.




With these tips to help you, getting your kid to brush teeth isn’t a tall order everyday!


fun ways to get kids to bush their teeth

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