Dental Care: It’s not about perfection, it’s about persistence
by Leesa from Oregon
I’m proud to say that both my daughter (age 3½) and myself (age 40) have never had any cavities! It hasn’t been easy, but I’m hopeful that if I share my experience, others might be able to achieve a healthy smile as well.
Healthy gums are the first start. Before she had teeth, I gently used my finger with a soft rubber attachment until we slowly transitioned to a real toothbrush. I avoided anything hard or with actual bristles until she had teeth that I could brush.
It’s not about perfection, it’s about persistence. I still try hard to keep my teeth cavity-free, which contributes to my goal of keeping my child’s teeth healthy too. Eventually, monkey see monkey do. Kids love to imitate us!
My daughter has been through many phases and tears during our tooth brushing endeavors. The only thing that has stayed consistent is that she will avoid it at any cost. That’s when I step in with kindness while reminding her that it’s extremely important, and needs to be done twice a day. I avoid scolding, criticism, and negativity, it’s counterproductive.
I’ve explained about dental hygiene, played videos, read her books, and shared the facts. I’ve never missed my daughter’s cleanings or appointments with the dentist. I make sure to compliment her often, reward occasionally, and do my very best to do what’s recommended. When we run into obstacles, her dentist provides suggestions.
With strong willpower, I keep most sugar out of our daily diets. Added sugar has several systemic health drawbacks, including increased cavities. Fruit, milk, and other healthy foods have some sugar, but this isn’t the sugar I’m referring to. Moderate sugar from whole foods is recommended and ideal.
One important choice I made long ago was to invest in a good electric toothbrush. It took time to save the money. I’m so glad I prioritized, and planned ahead to be able to afford an electric toothbrush for my daughter at age 3. It really makes the task easier! She complains about the vibration, but agrees it cleans much better. To help us both, she uses her favorite regular toothbrush for the first 2 minutes, then I follow with 2 minutes using the electric toothbrush.
“Santa” brought us each one, which made it more fun, exciting, and important to her. Especially when I added the phrase “Wow, Santa wants us to keep brushing and thinks you’re a big girl too!”
We ALL get busy, lazy, or forgetful sometimes. If you have missed a day, I recommend not overdoing it. Rushing the toothbrushing can traumatize, be painful, or cause injuries to your little one. Make sure to have the time available, with no distractions, during both morning and evening. This is CRUCIAL if you want to avoid causing extra discomfort or bad memories associated with teeth cleaning. Be mindful, if you are upset, angry, or frustrated, your child will mimic you.
Patience, positivity, practice, and praise are your best friends as you move forward with your little one’s teeth brushing adventures. The most important thing is to never give up!
My favorite part of life is being a mom; it’s the most beneficial life experience possible! I thank God, as well as my parents for this incredible blessing. Motherhood has forever changed me for the better, and I’m so grateful!!
More posts by Leesa:
Want more information on brushing your child's teeth? wichealth.org has a free online lesson called Two Minutes Twice A Day For A Healthy Smile. Find it on wichealth.org in the Children 1-5 category!