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What to Do When Your Kids Won’t Brush?

by John M. Khoury, Jr. DDS

Monday, August 01, 2011

What should you do if your kids won’t brush? Keep parenting! Don’t give up. It’s our job as parents to make sure our kid’s stay healthy.

The main reason for brushing and for going to the dentist regularly, every 6 months, is prevention of tooth decay. Children under the age of six may not even have the dexterity they need to brush well so dig in and parent. Try these fun ideas:

  • Allow your child to brush your teeth, and then you brush theirs. Finish with synchronized brushing by matching movements in the mirror. This technique can be even more fun (or go very wrong) when you include siblings.
  • Kids will brush longer if there is a spitting competition; accuracy challenges work better than distance. Seriously, try saying this, “If you brush for three minutes you can spit in the toilet.” It'll probably even motivate adults in the house to brush longer.
  • Add a soundtrack. Use your child’s favorite music or pick your favorite artists to increase their musical frame of reference. Most songs are over two minutes long, brush to the rhythm.
  • Tape a picture of a power toothbrush next to a picture of their favorite singer, cartoon character or athlete and bribe them, “If you brush for three minutes before school, rinse your mouth after lunch and brush three minutes before bed for thirty days straight, I will buy you the power toothbrush that (insert hero) uses.” When they “win” the power toothbrush, everyone wins!
  • Buy kid’s floss sticks and tell your child to always be prepared to floss. Every time your child asks you for concession stand money or extra cash say, “Floss your teeth.” If they can pull out a floss stick, give them the money you were going to give them anyway. This will train your children to take care of their teeth even when they are on-the-go.
  • Be intentional about the toothpaste you buy. Many types of toothpaste contain mint flavorings that adults barely notice but can sting young mouths. This is one of the reasons children do not like to brush.

For more information call (248) 969-SMILE or visit www.OxfordSmileCenter.com Dr. Khoury supports the local community with programs such as Halloween candy buy-back, Donated Dental Services, elementary educational visits and support of school athletic programs.