Mellow Mummy: Toothbrushing - The Struggles : Taking life as it comes...

Monday, 7 July 2014

Toothbrushing - The Struggles

Every morning and every evening we struggle with toothbrushing. Holly is now at the age where she believes she can do everything on her own, and when she wants to (not when we want her to). Toothbrushing simply doesn't fit in with her plans. It's not unusual. In fact, looking back through my blog archives I can see that at this age, Lara was just as awkward and argumentative at toothbrushing time as her younger sister is now. So I guess the fact that Lara now brushes her teeth beautifully offers some light at the end of the tunnel. But it still doesn't stop it being a struggle now. I have resorted to threatening (or perhaps even bribing) Holly with her first real visit to the Dentist.

Practitioners and dentists in London, as in every other city in the UK, will emphasise the fact that as soon as your baby's milk teeth come through, you should start brushing our children’s teeth so as to avoid the costs of dental prices as they grow older. There are many websites such as the NHS and Toothpick, that guide you on how to best approach toothbushing for a baby or toddler but nothing really prepares you for the point when they actively start refusing to brush.

Most children are scared of visiting the dentist because of the stories they hear from friends and TV programmes about having to have teeth removed.  But for my girls, a trip to the dentist seems to be something they really look forward to - a special day out!  I'm currently using this to my advantage.  Holly actively wants to go to the dentist (having only ever been as an onlooker in the past) and in order to encourage her to let us brush her teeth I tell her about the things that the dentist will ask her to do when she gets there.  "Say aaaah".

Many dentists will let you take your baby or toddler along with you to your own dentist appointment and will happily give them a very quick check.  Neither of the dentists we have attended would take the girls for their own appointment until they are 3 years old, even if they have a mouth full of teeth.  This seems a bit of a shame because not only does a regular visit to the dentist de-mystify some of the scary unknowns about the dentist but it is also an early opportunity for the dentist to spot any possible problems from a very early age.  Holly first came with me to the dentists when she was about a week old and has been several times since - it is something a bit different and fun for her and I hope this will make it easier and less stressful for her in the future.

So, each evening I now tell Holly and Lara that I want them to brush their teeth until they sparkle or else the dentist won't be very happy when we go to visit.  This tactic works to an extent but Holly is still very good at finding excuses for why she doesn't need to brush.  At this age (in fact right up to about 7 years old) dentists recommend that you help your child to brush their teeth because without your help they are unlikely to reach all the right places or use the correct brushing motion.  Holly fights this so much that it takes both myself and Mr. B. to hold her while we brush.  It is such hard work but I'm sure it is worth it.  Brushing at least twice a day with a gentle toothpaste should eventually become a habit for both of them and it is a good investment in their dental health.

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