Or should I call this article, ‘The trick to tricking your kids to brush their teeth’?
For a Mother’s Day article in a local newspaper, I was asked about the best words of wisdom my darling mother gave me. In amongst the other suggestions from well known QLD personalities like ‘Be true to yourself’, ‘Work on your personality because your looks will fade’ and ‘Think about others’, my advice was simply: ‘Clean your teeth’.
My Mum was a dental nurse and her obsessive-compulsive disorder for brushing our pegs paid off — all her children are cavity free. The only advice she neglected to share was how to make them do it. Right now you would think brushing my daughter’s teeth was a nightly ‘brush with death’ for her. Millie acts like I’m coming at her with a dentist drill when I pull out her little pink princess tooth brush and it usually ends in some kind of head lock, arms flailing about, screams of torture and the neighbours putting up For Sale signs to move as far away from loud, weird neighbours as possible.
I have a new appreciation for Mum as she did this with FIVE children and not a glass of wine in sight. She should win mother of the millennium. In the meantime I’m really letting the family pride down, and I’m afraid Millie will be the first two-year-old on the planet with dentures.
Any dentist will tell you that teaching a child to care for their teeth from a young age will be an investment in lifelong oral care. But convincing them of that when their first tooth pokes through isn’t as easy as the professionals make out.
According to the world famous “Super Nanny” the tips for ensuring your kids have pearly whites are:
- Use a soft-bristled children’s brush
- Apply just a pea-sized smear of toothpaste
- Brush gently but thoroughly, ensuring all teeth are covered
Isn’t that lovely advice… but completely useless for my two-year-old, soon-to-be toothless terror. My desperation for a solution led me to my friends, family and workmates; I needed their tips on how to manage the ongoing issue in my household or she would loose teeth and the world would run out of wine. Some suggested getting an older friend of Millie’s to show her how to take care of her teeth, let her watch you clean your teeth, buy a fun themed toothbrush or sing a happy song – if you know anything about me, you know I love to sing, but sadly my incredible singing wasn’t getting through this one.
So I gave up, and passed the job onto Gerard. While I cleaned up dinner, he rolled up his sleeves and took on the task with gusto. There were the standard screams of horror and then silence. I went to check everyone was OK and found Millie excitedly peering at Gerard’s iPhone while cleaning her teeth!
Was it Frozen he bribed her with? Nope. Dora? Nope. Old vision of Millie as a baby, which she is addicted to watching right now. Sadly, no. Shockingly, she was looking at pictures of the worst teeth I’ve ever seen, and I mean black, green and everything in between. Chipped, broken and barely there.
Horrified, I questioned what on earth he had Googled? Gerard replied sheepishly, “Umm, meth addicts teeth”, followed by telling Millie her teeth would end up like that if she didn’t brush them daily. I was stuck between emotions of utter disgust and awarding him bad parent of the year or jumping for joy that she’d given up the fight.
The following day I put it to my workmates, two middle-aged men with kids with teeth. They asked if it got results. The answer was, of course, yes, so they put it down as a stroke of genius. Gerard wins father of the year.
So next time you’re faced with a screaming child who’s looking down the barrel of a future filled with cavities and dentures, I’m not going to give you any advice, other than to say it’s day five since my husband took over, and she is loving cleaning her teeth.
Get Daddy on the job, it’s as simple as that.