Four Tips To Employ When You Can't Get Your Elementary School-Aged Child To Brush Their Teeth

It's no secret that daily toothbrushing is essential for good oral health. You know this -- and you've probably told your child this time and time again -- but they still seem resistant to the idea of brushing their teeth. This is not an uncommon problem, but it is a frustrating one. And it's definitely in your best interest to deal with it right away, since continuing to avoid brushing their teeth could leave your child with countless cavities. Here are four tips to employ when your child refuses to brush.

Schedule an appointment with the dental hygienist

Sometimes, kids go through a stubborn streak during which their main goal seems to be defying their parents. They may not want to listen to anything you say even if they know, deep down, that you are right. Having someone else that they trust as an authority talk to them about the importance of dental hygiene may be more helpful than continuing to pester them about brushing their teeth. Call your dentist's office, and schedule an appointment with the dental hygienist. Explain what is going on, and ask they they talk to your child specifically about the importance of brushing.

Do not tell your child why you're visiting the dentist before you go. Just let them assume it is a regular cleaning appointment. When the dental hygienist looks in their mouth, appears worried, and then gives them a detailed talk about brushing their teeth, they may suddenly be "scared straight" into brushing their teeth more regularly.

Let them pick their own toothpaste

Taste preferences change as you age. Just because that mint toothpaste is delicious in your mind does not mean your child likes it. Their taste buds may be more sensitive and they may just dislike certain flavors. This could be keeping them from brushing their teeth. Take your child with you to the pharmacy, and let them pick out their own tube of toothpaste. It's perfectly okay if they choose a kids' flavor like bubblegum or cherry that's intended for younger toddlers. It's better that they brush their teeth with this child's toothpaste than not at all. Just make sure the paste they choose has the ADA seal on it and contains fluoride to strengthen their tooth enamel. 

Forbid fun time until their teeth are brushed

It's best for your child to brush their teeth in the morning and right before going to bed. But sometimes, you have to pick your battles. It's better for them to brush their teeth when they get home from school or earlier in the evening than not at all. Consider withholding fun time until your child has brushed their teeth for the evening. For instance, you could take away their smartphone sot they can't chat with friends until their teeth are brushed. Or, you could turn off the TV and only allow them to turn it back on once they're finished brushing.

Look at photos of people with bad teeth

Many children (and many adults, for that matter) learn visually. You can warn your child that not brushing will lead to tooth decay until you are blue in the face, but this idea may seem so far-fetched and unfamiliar to them that it loses its meaning. So, show them some pictures instead. You should have no trouble finding images of tooth decay on the Internet. Find some particularly bad ones, and show them to your child, explaining that this is what their mouth will look like one day if they don't start brushing their teeth.

Each child will respond differently to the tactics above, but chances are good that if you try all four of them, at least one will work. For more information, contact a business such as Sunnyside Dentistry for Children.