It isn’t unusual for kids to push back against brushing their teeth at some point. Sometimes, children may hate brushing their teeth because they are expressing a desire for self-sufficiency, though they likely don’t have the words to express what they want clearly. In other cases, a kid’s resistance to teeth brushing may be rooted in sensory problems.
Here at Riverside Dental Care, we’ve worked with parents to help them care for their children’s dental health, sharing tips and tricks to help reluctant kids become consistent in the oral care, and we want to share these insider tips with other worried parents.
Ask Why Your Kid Hates Brushing Their Teeth
Your child may not have all the words they need to tell you why they hate brushing their teeth, but with your help, your kid might be able to express what their issues are with teeth brushing. Try to avoid leading questions or ones that plant an idea in your kid’s mind, such as, “Do you hate brushing your teeth because it hurts?”
Instead, ask open-ended questions that help your child express themselves, like, “What do your teeth feel like when I brush them?” Depending on the age of your child, you may want to point to different areas of the mouth—teeth, gums, tongue—to help your kid follow your question.
You may find that your child’s mouth is pretty sensitive, and they need more gentle brushing techniques. Also, by encouraging your child to express their feelings and concerns, you may find they are more willing to allow for future oral care.
Explain Why Brushing Teeth Is Important
No one, not even young kids, wants to hear “because I said so” as the answer to a question. While there may be times when that is the only answer, when it comes to teeth brushing, it might help if you explain why teeth brushing is important.
There are several ways to go about explaining the importance of oral care. From watching kid-friendly YouTube videos on why people need to brush their teeth to using age-appropriate language to explain about issues that can occur when teeth brushing is neglected, there are many ways you can help your child understand why they need to brush their teeth.
Consider Potential Sensory Issues
Some children—both neurotypical and non-neurotypical—can struggle with sensory issues when it comes to brushing their teeth. The feel of toothbrush bristles and dental floss is nothing like anything they put in their mouths, and the sensation can be overwhelming.
Hopefully, any feeling of sensory overload comes up during your discussion with your child. For those kids who are hypersensitive, such as when they are cutting a new tooth, using a bit of numbing gel can help dull the sensitivity enough for teeth brushing. With children who want more sensory engagement—i.e., like to bite the toothbrush—you can engage them in the process more and ask if they want to do things like bite on the brush in between brushing the quadrant of their mouth.
Give Your Kid Dental Hygiene Options
Children may resist brushing their teeth in a bid for more independence. So, when possible, try and offer your child as many dental hygiene options as you can.
When it comes to dental services like routine dental cleanings, there are no real options than having a cleaning, but things like toothbrushes, the flavor of toothpaste, and style of dental floss can give your child options.
Brush Teeth As A Family
Role modeling good dental hygiene can go a long way to get young kids to agree to brush their teeth. Children are consummate mimics and learn best from example, which means brushing your teeth as a family can be a great way to get your kid to want to brush their teeth without a fight.
It may mean that you brush your teeth earlier in the evening than you want, but it’s not like you can’t brush your teeth later! Also, by brushing your teeth at the same time, you can let your child try brushing their teeth first, and you do a second round for good measure.
Enlist The Help Of Your St George Dentist
Sometimes, kids are more willing to listen to other authority figures than their parents. If you need some backup to support you when it comes to getting your kid to brush their teeth, you can mention it to our dentists. They can talk to your child during a dental appointment and encourage good oral hygiene.
When you and the rest of your family are ready for your next dental cleanings, be sure to contact us and set up your appointments!