Maybe not too many of you guys know this, but I am a Dental Hygienist by trade – hence the name, Grinning Cheek to Cheek. Many Hygienist’s worst fears is that they or their children and spouse have any cavities, because it reflects poorly onto them!
Parents have often asked me ‘how do I get my kids’ teeth brushed?’ or the explanation: ‘my kid hates to have their teeth brushed and that’s why they’re full of plaque and they have cavities…’To those parents; I’ve often given them tips – hints like ‘Try making it a game. I brush your teeth, you brush mine (with each person having their own toothbrush, of course! please don’t share!); getting a cool toothbrush that is their favorite character; or count the teeth as you’re brushing them or other tips like that.
My son *HATES* to have his teeth brushed. He desperately avoids it at all costs. He likes to have control of the toothbrush himself, which is nice – but he is two, and obviously doesn’t have the control to get his teeth effectively cleaned. He pretty much likes to brush his tongue…So what happens when I try to brush his teeth? He SCREAMS, Kicks, Cries, and turns his head side to side like I am KILLING HIM!!
So because he does this – Does this mean that he doesn’t get his teeth brushed?? NoPe! (well maybe less often than a child who loves to have their teeth brushed…) But at least 4-5 times per week I PIN him down. We always start nice.. with toothpaste and his fun toothbrush that spins and has Thomas on it – but then he starts screaming and wanting me out of his mouth. So I get him to the ground, with my leg over his arms and chest, and one hand holding his cheeks open and the other hand getting the toothbrush in his mouth. He cries through the whole thing, but at least his mouth is open 🙂
We end with him playing again with his toothbrush and continuing to brush on his own with more (non-fluoride) flavored toothpaste.
The nights I don’t pin him down, I just give him the toothbrush to brush on his own, its better than NOTHING but not good enough in itself. So: now when asked by parents this difficult question of ‘how do I get my kids teeth brushed? they HATE it!” My answer is… “Just DO IT. It is NOT an option… it sucks, but its better to be efficient and get the teeth effectively cleaned with a toothbrush, than paying a pediatric and sedation dentist to get your child full mouth reconstruction with needles, drills, crowns, bridges, and extraction materials because their teeth rotted out.”
How long will I be brushing my sons teeth despite his huge hatred towards it? Until he is efficient enough to do it on his own. Even if that means I’m pinning him down when he is 7 years old.