Raising children is challenging to say the very least. There are daily challenges and sometimes I feel like they come every 10 minutes. There are days where I will let some things slide. There are days where I will let everything slide. Sometimes it’s all I can do to make it through the day. While some challenges are molehills, such as doing homework; other challenges – such as dental hygiene – are mountains. But, I have a mouth full of cavity-filled teeth and I was going to do everything in my power to spare my children that pain. We are now at a point where we floss, brush and rinse every night but it was a long road to get here. My oldest and youngest were fairly easy to develop good teeth brushing habits with – we were able to take care of their teeth from the beginning.
Cuyler, my middle child, was a bit of a different story. He has autism and with that came so many sensory issues that brushing his teeth proved an impossible feat. Getting a toothbrush into his mouth, not a chance! I wasn’t going to give up, though. I went through dozens of different brushes and different toothpastes. He always ended up in a meltdown. By the time he was three years old I’d had enough. We decided to start over again with a slower strategy. I bought a new toothbrush – a small toddler toothbrush and we would hold off on toothpaste – one thing at a time. I told him one morning that we were going to brush teeth at bedtime. He fought it so I took the toothbrush into his room, sat on his bed and firmly said “Five seconds” I put the toothbrush to his lips and quickly said “onetwothreefourfive! GOOD BOY! You did it!” I did that for a few nights. By the end of the week his lips weren’t pursed shut and I was able to get a few swipes onto his front teeth. I then started to space out the seconds. Always counting to that predictable number five, just taking longer to get to it. I was able to eventually, with great patience, get the toothbrush in his mouth and brush his teeth.
After a few months I was able to count (very slowly) to five while brushing each quadrant of his mouth. FINALLY – his teeth were really being taken care of. Once he was used to the toothbrush in his mouth, he allowed a small bead of toothpaste on the brush. I felt like a good mom. This was one area where I was actually succeeding. The next challenge was going to be floss – I knew that’s where we would run into trouble with cavities if I didn’t start. Once his adult teeth started coming in – there was no question about it. We were going to floss. I started off just flossing the front few teeth. After a few days I would floss a few more teeth each night until his entire mouth was being flossed. Then we introduced LISTERINE® SMART RINSE® – that was the easy part. Initially I had to show Cuyler how mouth rinse works – swish, swish, swish, swish, SPIT. We also used a countdown for that (still do), but he figured out the mouth rinse right away. We call the plaque particles that you can see in the sink “sugar bugs” and sometimes I’ll find the kids brushing side by side, doing a rinse and seeing who has the least amount of “sugar bugs” when they spit. Whoever spits out the least amount of sugar bugs has brushed the best. Anything can be turned into a game!
It was a long struggle for us to get him into a pattern of good oral hygiene, but it was a fight I needed to win. I needed to ensure that we were taking all the preventative measures to keep him from having to endure the process of getting a cavity filled. Ironically, my child who refused a toothbrush entry into his mouth for the first three years of his life is also my child with the best teeth. No cavities and perfect alignment.
That’s how it worked for us. So tell me, what has worked for you? Are your kids good brushers or do you struggle? Tell us about tips or challenges you faced as your kids learned to take care of their teeth in the comments and you will be entered for your chance to win one of three LISTERINE® SMART MOUTH KIDS $1,000 cash prizes that can be used towards your child’s education!
The contest starts this week and will run for the next three consecutive weeks. It’s open to UrbanMoms members and your comment is your ballot is your entry. Come back each week, read the posts and comment. You have three opportunities to enter the contest. Good luck!
Submission to the Contest Weekly Blog Comment Period closes at 8:59 am, on Monday, August 20. 2012.
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