Oral Health Care for Young Children: What Dentists Don’t Tell You
There are lots of places to get great tips on caring for your kids’ teeth, including here on the Ready. Set. Grow! Oral Health Campaign web hub. But, let’s be honest: It’s really easy for the experts in the white coats to tell you what you should be doing to keep your kids’ teeth shiny and bright. And they’re right. But what no one tell you is how amazingly hard it is to follow their directions when faced with an infant who won’t open her mouth, a toddler who won’t hold still or a preschooler who insists he can do it himself – but then spends several minutes making faces in the mirror without a bristle touching his teeth.
I’ve run the gamut over the years when it comes to my attitude toward teeth brushing time at my house. Sometimes, I’m so intent on winning the battle over the brush, I’ve resorted to holding down a thrashing child just for a victorious swipe or two at the innards of his mouth. Other times, I’m completely blasé and, when met with lips that won’t separate, have thrown the toothbrush back on the sink and walked away – but not without first getting in a parting, guilt-inducing shot along the lines of: “They’re your teeth. What do I care if they fall out or not?”
I’m not proud of myself for handling challenging circumstances either way. Actually, it’s downright embarrassing to admit I’ve lost my cool like that. More than once. I credit the fact that I care so much about my kids, their health and everything associated with it to explain my lack of judgment. Because, seriously, I know how important oral health care is. Uncared for teeth and gums can lead to pain, missed school and, let’s face it, expensive emergency treatments.
So, while you should take the advice from those dental experts, I’ll add a few tips from my oral health care war chest:
- Resist power struggles at tooth brushing times. It’s better to skip or postpone than force a brush into a stubborn toddler’s mouth.
- Let your child brush while you sing a song. When it’s over, it’s your turn to brush for one more tune.
- Always keep a spare toothbrush on hand for your child – you never know when it will be dropped or thrown into the toilet. Seriously.
- Don’t waste an opportunity – brushing the open mouth of a crying or screaming toddler is totally okay.
- The best 99 cents I ever spent was for a toothbrush with a blinking light. It’s a one-minute timer that thwarts arguments over whose turn it is.
Related Topics: Oral Health
Experts call poor oral health the number one childhood epidemic in the country. The...Read More
Pregnancy is not a reason to defer dental care, despite concerns that some oral...Read More