Brushing your kids’ teeth, as we all know, is very important but in reality, getting them to learn to do it themselves or even trying to pry their mouths open to give them a helping hand can be a huge challenge. To ease the strain and make sure you don’t skip a session at the sink through sheer frustration, we’ve put together some tips to help you on your tricky journey and your kids on the right path to healthy oral hygiene routines.
First thing’s first – make tooth-brushing fun for your children with a toothbrush/toothpaste that they’ll look forward to using. We LOVE the Jack N Jill range of natural calendula toothpastes with organic flavours including banana, blackcurrant and raspberry (makes the kids want to brush their teeth at every opportunity) and their compostable and biodegradable toothbrushes (bye bye plastic) – all available at Qoo10, Baby Online and Motherswork. Little ones still not keen to get brushing? These tactics might help…
A Star Chart
Start a special reward chart for your children so they can see how well they are doing, and offer a small prize if they get all their stars… Not only will the praise spur them on, a little bribe of a token pressie never hurt anyone!
Humming tunes of favourite songs is always a winner. Its also gets your child opening and closing their mouth and gives you the opportunity to reach all the teeth, both back and front. For older children, you can sing a song whilst they brush. Singing to the tune of row your boat is a very popular one “Brush, brush, brush your teeth gently to and fro. Up and down back and forth, brush them til they glow.” And repeat!
Brushing the teeth of your child’s dolls or teddy bears will teach them to be responsible. Most kids adore pretend play and it will encourage them to be more receptive when it’s their turn.
Use animal noise games to get your little one to open their mouth. Roaring like a lion and hissing like a snake are fun and will ensure you don’t miss any of those baby gnashers.
Colourful and Fun Toothbrushes
Have a pot of 3 different coloured toothbrushes and let your little one choose the colour that they want, or let them choose in the supermarket. Toddlers love being independent and it will help if it makes them feel all grown up.
Books about brushing
Tired and brain fried from multi-tasking all day, mamas? Well, if you can’t think of your own stories to tell your little one (Prince and princesses beating the cavity baddies in the castle, or such like), then do yourself a favour and head down to the bookshop or library. You can find plenty of books that can help inspire and educate your tots. Here are our top 3 picks:
Other tips to ensure your child starts enjoying brushing their teeth:
Use correct amount of toothpaste
Large amounts of toothpaste can cause lots of foam in a child’s mouth and will make them uncomfortable. A child under 2 years old should only have a smear of toothpaste on their brush, and over 2 year olds should have a pea-size amount.
Learn by example
Let your child watch you whilst you brush your teeth. Kids love to imitate their mama so a game of copycat will certainly help them on their way!
This is one of the best parenting techniques around and it works for brushing teeth too. Whether it’s with a book, toy or even allowing them to hold a second toothbrush whilst you brush, it is almost always guaranteed to work wonders so give it a try!
Apps for Brushing Thanks to technology, brushing can be even easier for both mamas and little ones. Here are three top interactive apps that will make brushing exciting and effective… and they are free too!
Time 2 Brush Time2Brush is a popular app and comes to you from Aquafresh. It is both fun and educational, teaching your child where to brush his teeth and for how long (with a stopwatch counting down the seconds). If you complete the cycle well then your child will receive points which they can accumulate and use to buy accessories for their Toothpaste Man (Nurdle) – think hat, shoes, glasses and tops! Let’s be honest mamas, kids do love a game with a bit of shopping on the side, so why not?!
Brush DJ This NHS-approved app plays two minutes of music from your iPhone and has a visual display of where to brush – its makes brushing fun as well as ensuring you reach all those pearly whites in your little ones mouth. It also allows you to set reminders of when to brush teeth, when to change their toothbrushes, and when to book the next visit to the dentist.
This app is perfect to ensure those gnashers get a proper scrub. It offers the usual fun music and great graphics, but also presents an adjustable timer, which – lets face it mamas – is really handy, especially for those kids who spend half the time spitting out or laughing/crying in between…
Going to the Dentist
Most children find going to the dentist a very frightening experience. To help them understand what’s in store for them, you might want to read them a book or let them watch something that calms the nerves. For example, Peppa Pig has an episode called “The Dentist” which is educational, fun and reassuring.
The last step is to choose a good, child-friendly dentist, and we’ve rounded up a few for you to investigate. Good luck and remember to keep those pearly whites shiny and bright!
Burlinson Dental Dr. Graeme Burlinson got his start in paediatric dentistry visiting scholkids in his native Australia as “Colgate’s Dr. Rabbit”, so he clearly knows his stuff. East Coast mums praise his friendly, relaxed manner and the convenience of his Siglap practice right on East Coast Road.
Children’s Dental Program at NUH Praised for their reasonable prices and convenient for families in the West, the Children’s Dental Program at NUH deals with all aspects of oral care for little ones. From prevention, diagnosis and management of kids’ dental problems such as gum disease, dental anomalies and injury to children’s teeth.
NUH Dental Centre, National University Hospital, Main Building, Centre 1, Level 1 5 Lower Kent Ridge Road Singapore 119074 Tel: (+65) 6772 4921 www.nuh.com.sg
Dental Essence This family practice has several years of experience treating children, and they help parents instill good habits from an early age. All this while your little one gets to watch cartoons on the ceiling TV! Doctor Andrew Lui is very gentle and kids have been known to kick and scream on their way OUT of his office. Now, that’s a hard one to beat.
Dr. Rashid at the Kids Dentist The emphasis is on fun at this Camden Medical Centre practice. Specialising in paediatric dentistry since 1997, Dr. Rachid is a father of two as well as the President of Singapore’s Society for Paediatric Dentistry. With video games, a foosball table and a playhouse, his office looks like more fun than a lot of playgrounds!
Dr. Scott Chao, Dental Icon @ Costa Dr. Chao gets raves from East Coast mums for being gentle and patient with little ones, and we hear his office staff is a dream to work with as well (always a plus!). The practice also accepts Baby Bonus funds.
GPA Dental (Holland Village, Novena, Bugis) With three locations across Singapore, GPA Dental has developed its own “Kids Teeth” program with a dedicated kids’ treatment room and scaled-down, child-sized equipment. It’s also the only clinic in Singapore to offer the Waterlase system, which promises no pain, no drilling and no injections! We’ve heard great things about Dr. Ong at the Holland Village location.
Holland Village, 3 Lorong Liput, Holland V Shopping Mall, Singapore 277725 Tel: (+65) 6466 4900
Kids Dental World at Mt. Elizabeth Novena Dr. Ong has more than 20 years’ experience and is a founding member of Singapore’s Society of Paediatric Dentistry. Her practice specializes in working with children, from infants through adolescents, and her shiny new office offers a fun and colourful environment for kiddos.
Louise is a freelance fashion and lifestyle writer, and full time mama to gorgeous girls, Milla and Emilie. She’s worked with some of the most renowned fashion brands in the sector and moved to Dubai in 2008 with her husband, where she worked for multibrand store Boutique 1 and set up her own label, Lulu Bare.