For those of you not familiar with DxD Sessions, it's where renowned doctors in Singapore answer reader questions for free, often while sharing fascinating insights into a medical condition or treatment (we promise that it's nothing like those boring FAQs you find on clinic pages!)
Dr Tabitha is a super cheerful dentist who loves children, and just happens to have a degree in Child Psychology! Being an experienced paediatric dentist and mother, she's mastered the art of communicating with children.
A concerned mother recently asked Dr Tabitha for help through our Ask A Doctor page because her son hates brushing his teeth.
Here are her unconventional but super useful tips:
Show and tell all the way!
Reading a book or watching a video, while talking about toothbrushing with your kids are good ways to get started.
You can also use visuals like cavities to highlight the importance of brushing.
Never ever scare your children!
Parents often (hands up if you are guilty!) use dentists to threaten them into brushing. "If you do not brush your teeth, I will bring you to dentist to pull out all your teeth!"
While it may work for a while, it will definitely backfire when it is time to actually visit the dentist.
Shop for teeth supplies together
Involve them in every step of the decision making sequence of toothbrushing. Go shopping with them and let them decide on the toothbrush and tooth paste they want.
The more toothbrushes the merrier!
More is always more. Buy multiple toothbrushes so that they can choose! You should find ones with their favourite character of the moment or favourite colour.
Fancy toothbrushes are the best!
Toothbrushes with blinking lights, songs, or electric spin brushes are the best! These lights and songs are intentionally designed to be 1-2 minutes long which add a visual/audio cue for them to know how long they need to be brushing for.
Let your kids be boss
When it is toothbrushing time, it's time for them to call the shots! Let them decide which toothbrush (that's why you have to get more than one!) they would like to use today.
Which toothpaste to use next, which teeth to have brushed first… Young children love being able to be a "big boy/girl“ and make decisions.
Extra play time after toothbrushing
Did you know that sometimes kids do not want to brush their teeth because it signals that the night is over and that they have to go to bed? So the fight to brush is actually more about bed time than it was about toothbrushing.
So change the timing of toothbrushing, or let them continue playing after they brush their teeth!
No surprises allowed
Children thrive on routine and it can be terribly confusing for them as they wonder why they have to brush tonight when they didn't need to brush last night.
Be consistent with the brushing, twice a day, everyday. This allows them to know what to expect daily.
Give cuddles and high-fives!
Even if toothbrushing was a struggle that day, find things that he did that were positive. Something alone the lines of,“Mummy is so proud (that) you cleaned out all the sugar-bugs today!"
Peppered with cuddles and high-5s, it is a nice ending to toothbrushing that your kids will always look forward to.
Last but not least, find yourself an ally
Sometimes the messaging just has to come from someone else in authority and children listen straight away! Just like how our kids sometimes listen to their teachers better than us mums! (even though we were saying the very same thing).
Get a paediatric dentist on your side as a helpful ally. We know how to work that magic!
Ever wanted to ask a health question to a specific renowned specialist in Singapore? DxD Sessions are when these expert doctors answer all your questions!
- Salama F et al. Comparison of Saudi child versus parent-report of child tooth-brushing practices. Niger J Clin Pract. (2016)
- 7 Ways to Make Brushing Fun for Kids Mouth Healthy. American Dental Association