brushing teeth, toddler, preschooler

Princess Ella's pearly whites after brushing twice a day

BRUSHING teeth used to set off tantrums in our house bigger than Russell Crowe after having his poem reading cut short. The memories of those moments came flooding back when parents of toddlers started discussing the minty fresh topic during the Colgate Bloggers Brunch in Sydney last month.

However, something changed with Princess Ella. Maybe it was turning into a preschooler, maybe it was finding a way to make the whole experience fun or it could well be that she’s now in control of the situation. And what three-year-old doesn’t love control?

With 38% of children aged 5-6 having some form of tooth decay, we all need to find an easier way to get toothbrushes onto pearly whites. So, as part of Oral Health Month this August I thought I’d share some of the tips made by bloggers and NSW Dental Hygienists’ Association of Australia president Melanie Hayes during the bloggers brunch, plus a few of my own.

Tips for healthy teeth:

  • Use a small, soft brush and, for children over 18 months, a pea-sized amount of low fluoride toothpaste. (Rinse first. You never know where they’ve had it). Try and encourage them to spit the toothpaste out, not swallow it. This can become a game in itself (as you’ll see by the video).
  • Brush twice a day, with the final brush AFTER their night-time milk (if your child is still having a drink of milk at night).
  • Let them have a go at brushing their teeth first, then take over.
  • Face them away from you, looking into a mirror, and brush them as if you were brushing your own teeth. Clean the outer surfaces, the chewing surface and behind the front teeth.
  • If you have more than one child, let them all brush together. Better still, join them and have “family brushing time’’. Kids love to copy.
  • Brush your child’s teeth, while they brush your teeth (a tip by Zoey of Good Goog)
  • Sing The Toothbrush Song from PlaySchool to make the experience a little more entertaining (A little shy on the singing in this video).
  • Have a morning and night-time routine chart on the wall that shows when it’s time to brush. This makes them responsible for remembering when to brush. (Again, it’s the control thing).
  • You should help your child brush their teeth until they are eight years old (I know, good luck to us all).

Now, for a video of Ella showing how we make brushing teeth fun. So this one’s for the little people in the house. Mums, set the kids up with the laptop for a few minutes and go finish the dishes (or that sneaky bit of chocolate hiding in the pantry).

What are your tips for getting children to brush their teeth?

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21 Responses to How to brush your teeth (for kids)

  1. Louisa says:

    Gorgeous Kel! The next step in our house is to master the spit. Wish us luck!!

  2. Great tips, and gorgeous video!

    Those stats are horrrifying. Shows how important things like no sugary drinks and lots of teeth brushing are.

    • Kel says:

      Yes, definitely, Megan. I can still recall the look on everyone’s face when that stat was pulled out. Quite frightening really. That alone has made me more conscious of how well we brush Ella’s teeth. I’ve even started giving Baby Holly her li’l toothbrush more regularly now!

  3. Love the video, and great tips! Some of my kids have loved toothbrushing and others hated it. I make ah noises up and down the musical scale and get them to try and copy me whilst brushing. Normally keeps them focused on the noises and not the brushing and keeps their tongue out of the way

  4. rachel says:

    well done Princess Ella! looks like teeth brushing is pretty fun in your house :)The Little Emperor’s school had a visit from the dentist today to teach them about all these good habits so your post is very timely for us! all the kids were given a toothbrush and some toothpaste as a gift, oh and some stickers cause they always help with …well everything!
    some good advice here for us parents too x

    • Kel says:

      Oh wow, what a coincidence, Rachel. I remember being quite excited when the dentist came to school. And stickers are always a highlight!
      After the bloggers brunch, we were given Dora toothpaste and toothbrush (among other Colgate products) and Ella just adores them! I find every time she gets a new toothbrush or toothpaste, she has a renewed vigour for teeth brushing!!! 😉

  5. Janet says:

    We still struggle with tooth brushing with Mr 17!!!! *Sigh*

  6. Eva London says:

    My daughter is still one years old and has only 6 teeth , but yet it was helpful to read your advices. Thanks!Hope that you have more useful tips – I will wait with interest!

    • Kel says:

      Glad it was of help, Eva. I certainly have plenty more I learnt from Colgate that I could share. Good luck with your daughter’s toothy pegs too. Wish I’d looked after my own a little better. Maybe that’s why I’m so particular about looking after the girls’ teeth now! 😉

  7. Di-licious says:

    Teeth brushing is a bit hit and miss in our house – we always manage night time but morning never seems to happen. The routine chart is a great idea (that I’ll have to find the time to make…..) Sometimes she likes it but often we’re fighting for control of the brush. I’ll definitely be sitting Miss O at the lap top to show her how clever Princess Ella is! Great post!

    • Kel says:

      Hope the video helps, Di. The chart actually came as part of a booklet when we visited the health nurse for her 3.5-year check up. She was so excited to have it on her wall and still checks it every morning and night. We forgot to brush her teeth before bed last night and she made such a fuss that we weren’t following the chart. Oh well, at least she’s taking some responsibility for her teeth!!! 🙂

      • Di-licious says:

        Ok, Olive is now officially in love with Ella. We have to watch the video every day and at teeth time, she wants to pretend she is Ella brushing her teeth. Too cute! Before long they’ll be Skype-ing one another! 🙂

  8. Penny says:

    The tips are awesome. It’s important to establish good and healthy habits in kids while they are still young! At least that’s how I bring up my little angel :).

    • Kel says:

      Thanks Penny. Glad you liked them.
      And so great to hear you’re having success with getting your little angel to brush toothy pegs. It used to be a bit of a challenge with Ella, but she now enjoys it. As you say, it’s about creating habits. 🙂

  9. naomi says:

    She’s so cute, great at listening to mummy!

  10. […] checkups at the dentist yesterday, they were both given a big tick (or a sticker, at least) for good care of their baby teeth. Ella even got to ride in the chair. Although she was slightly underwhelmed. “It wasn’t […]

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