Question: On average, how long does your child’s nighttime bathroom routine take?
a) Three minutes – in, out, no problem.
b) Five minutes – hey, a little toothpaste art in the sink never hurt anyone!
c) Ten+ minutes – a (likely) glimpse into their teenage years, I’m sure.
Meet Javan: the five-year-old apple of my eye, the star of my heart, and the consumer of 42% of our home’s water and toothpaste on any given day. This kid takes dawdling at bedtime to a whole new level: always with the water running, typically while talking to himself in the mirror about something he might have learned that day. (Tonight’s fun fact: “our brains look like a big ball of worms!”) Watching him from a secret location just outside the bathroom doorway (being careful not to laugh too hard at whatever he might be telling himself in the mirror), it didn’t take long for us to realize that this (lengthy) time spent in the bathroom each night was not time well-spent.
So, how can we make our child’s nighttime bathroom routine – specifically, brushing their teeth – both fun AND productive? Here are a few tips for you to try:
- Brush with your child. Our kids LOVE to mimic our behavior, so why not make this work to our advantage (and their good health)? Stand side-by-side in front of the bathroom sink, encouraging them to brush “just like you” – and more importantly, for as long as you (at least two minutes, according to recommendations from Burleson Orthodontics). Show them how much fun brushing their teeth can be! (Exaggerate, if necessary. ;-))
- “Race” to the finish. I don’t know about your toddler, but we can convince Javan to do almost anything if we tell him he’s racing something to get it done. If your toddler is motivated by the clock, why not set a two-minute timer and challenge him/her to outbrush the timer (thereby winning the “race”)?
- Sing a tooth-brushing song … OR, if singing just isn’t your thing, how about watching tooth-brushing songs on YouTube?
Now, while making tooth-brushing fun can be half the battle, you also want to make sure they’re doing a good job! Here are some helpful tips for achieving and maintaining a healthy mouth from Burleson Orthodontics:
- As soon as infants have their first tooth come in, parents can begin keeping it clean. It’s never too early to begin creating healthy habits for our children!
- Be sure they brush their teeth at least twice per day, for two minutes each time. They also need to floss at least once per day.
- Visit a dentist’s office every four to six months for a check-up and cleaning.
- Always use a mouth guard when playing sports. Sports are expensive enough without the added pain and financial burden of an injury to one of the most important parts of their body!
- Replace their toothbrush regularly (every two to three months or as the bristles become frayed). Letting your toddler pick out his/her next toothbrush might be a nice incentive toward building success with tooth-brushing!
This is the sixth and final post in our Pediatric Dentistry series sponsored by Burleson Orthodontics. You can learn more about Burleson Orthodontics by visiting their website or following them on Facebook and Twitter.