Maybe Matilda: Establishing Good Dental Habits

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Establishing Good Dental Habits

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Orajel Kids.

As is the case with just about everything I blather on about here, I barely know what I’m talking about. I kind of thought, prior to having children, that along with the inevitable pregnancy hormones and weight gain and stretch marks, expectant mothers were automatically bestowed with parental wisdom and insight. I’ve been disappointed to find that this is not the case, and I’m flying blind about 85% of the time. Jesus take the wheel.

One thing I’ve wanted to make sure of with my kids is that they learn to take good care of their teeth. My family has a sad history of bad teeth that make for lots of dental visits, and lots of those visits are unpleasant (my sister’s dentist calls an extra nurse into the room during her appointments just to hold her hand—you know it’s going to be bad when there’s a hand-holding nurse waiting for you). I (mercifully!) seem to have avoided the bad teeth gene myself (so far, at least), but after seeing my mom and a few siblings struggle with dental issues, I want to avoid my kids having to deal with them. Far be it from me to claim to be an expert on this topic, but here’s what I’ve done to try and help my kids set good habits when it comes to the ol’ chompers.

A few ideas to help your young kids establish good dental habits.

- Introduce a toothbrush early. I remember being told at early doctors’ appointments with Forrest to wipe his gums after each feeding, and nodding earnestly so the doctor wouldn’t think I was a negligent monster, then going home and laughing with Jeff about it. (And then she told me to wipe his gums! Seriously! Ha!) I will confess to having skipped this step, which will hopefully not turn out to have been a bad choice (I’m still unclear on how a gum wipe-down improves enamel integrity), but I did discover that both of my children loved teething on toothbrushes. A baby/kids toothbrush is the perfect size for uncoordinated little hands to grip, and Forrest (and now Darcy) loved chewing on the bristles. My hope was that offering them a toothbrush as an early toy/teether made the transition into actual toothbrushing easier when the time came, since they were already used to the feel/idea of a toothbrush in their mouths.

Tracking Pixel

- Let them brush by themselves. My own teeth practically start feeling scummy while watching Forrest do the worst job imaginable at brushing, but he loves being independent and doing things himself. So instead of just pinning him down and doing it for him, I give him his toothbrush and let him go to town. After a few minutes of completely inefficient and result-free brushing, I ‘check’ his work (which is when the actual brushing happens).

A few ideas to help your young kids establish good dental habits.

- Let them help you brush. It sounds silly . . . and for that matter, looks and feels silly as well . . . but I’ve noticed that Forrest puts up much less of a battle over brushing his teeth if I let him ‘help’ me brush mine first. Sure, I get jabbed in the gums and it’s not the most effective brushing of my life, but he loves helping, and it makes him a little more excited about brushing his own teeth.

- Give in and go for the character merchandise. As drawn as I am to the off-brand, lowest-priced version of pretty much everything, this is one area that I’m willing to spend a little more to fuel some excitement. Character toothbrushes and toothpaste (like the options at Orajel—Forrest’s current favorite is his “Thomas the train!!!” toothpaste) make this chore a little less chore-ish.

(Just look at this face. He is positively thrilled to be brushing his teeth.)

A few ideas to help set good dental care habits while your kids are young!

- Distraction 101. Show me a kid who eagerly steps up to the sink for a voluntary toothbrushing sesh and I will show you a kid that you just made up right now because he does not exist. We’ve always had the best luck getting a good, thorough brushing completed when Forrest is distracted by something else. When he was littler (and fought getting his teeth brushed more than he does now), I’d often brush his teeth before bed while he watched TV. Now that he doesn’t mind brushing nearly as much, I always have him brush his teeth in the tub while he takes a bath before bed.

Teaching him to brush on his own is a pretty big milestone (hooray for not having to pin him to the ground to brush his teeth, for that was a sad, grumpy, unpleasant phase of his childhood), and Orajel wants to celebrate all your child’s happy, smiling milestones (smilestones! see what they did there?). Share your favorite Smilestones on Orajel’s Facebook page to be entered to win a trip for 4 to Beaches Resorts!

I’d love to hear what you did to help your kids set good habits when it came to dental care—what worked well (and didn’t work at all) for you?

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Orajel Kids.


  1. Letting him brush his own teeth before (or while) I brush his teeth has made tooth brushing possible in our family...even though he just sucks off the toothpaste. Also to get him to open his mouth we sing silly songs like "if all the raindrops were lemon drops..." and such.

  2. I'm the worst mom because I have yet to take my almost 4 year old to a dentist :( but we do have a regular toothbrushing routine. I will be making both of their first appoints veerrrry soon. Harper protests always when brushing her teeth but it does help to let her help. Wil likes brushing his teeth - I'm really going to lose you as a friend soon haha.

  3. I only took Forrest to the dentist for the first time a few months ago, so we're in the same boat there. I think you owe me a picture of Wil throwing a monster tantrum or something ;-)

  4. I totally hear ya on the family bad teeth gene. We have what my dentist calls "soft teeth" and my Dad had to get full dentures (top & bottom) before he even turned 35. Wouldn't you know, I inherited them! Of course Ant's never had a single cavity before, and I secretly pray they'll find one each time he goes to the dentist. While I was pregnant though, that was one of the things that I wished for my kids - that they'd have blue eyes like me and strong teeth like Ant. I got the eyes, but so far Corbin has already chipped both his front teeth. It's not looking good for the lil' man. :-/

  5. Aw, poor lil buddy :-( But on the bright side, his dentist will LOVE you!


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