My wife and I are big believers in letting our daughters be as independent as possible. And for the past couple of years, that has included letting them brush their teeth without one of us in standing by the bathroom sink making sure they do a good job.
At first, this backfired a bit and, at their routine dentist appointment, we learned they weren’t doing as good of a job as they should. However, their past two visits resulted in a much more positive verdict from their dentist thanks to making three simple changes that still allow them to be independent and brush their teeth without us watching them like a hawk.
The first change was we started letting them brush their teeth together. We shied away from this at first, because my daughters tend to either screw around or fight when they are in the same room together. However, as my wife and I discovered, even though they will often still play games when sharing the bathroom sink, my youngest daughter tends to copy her sister’s brushing habits and, knowing this, her older sister does her best to set a good example. The end result is both girls do a much better job brushing.
Another thing we started doing was playing music. At first, this involved buying tooth brushes that played a song for a set number of minutes so they knew how long to brush. However, those are kind of expensive and we found we can get the same result from letting them listen to a favorite song on Pandora while brushing. And, since some of those songs are longer than the songs those toothbrushes play, they end up brushing their teeth even more.
The last thing we did was start giving them toothbrushes as rewards. While, admittedly, a toothbrush doesn’t really sound like that much of a reward, we found our daughters love just about anything they get as a present. And, buying them a new toothbrush with their favorite color, band or cartoon character every few weeks is a good way of keeping them excited about brushing. They almost always want to use their new toothbrushes right away, something we are more than willing to let them do.
As a result of these changes, my daughters have now gotten a clean bill of health at three straight dentist appointments. And, this means as much to them as it does to us because they know they still took care of their teeth on their own.