Ask Maggie: How Do I Get My Kids to Brush Their Teeth?

With the candy holiday coming, how can you get your kids to understand the importance of brushing?

October 2, 2018

Dear Maggie,

Why do my kids hate brushing their teeth and how do I get them to do it without standing there in the bathroom monitoring them? Who doesn’t want clean teeth? They are almost 8 and 13. I'm especially concerned now because, with Halloween around the corner, they'll be eating a TON of teeth-destroying candy this month!

Dear Mom of Cave Kids,  

Are you in my house? Were you just here? ... How did you see…

Wait, you said YOUR kids. Oh … got it. (insert: nervous laugh

Well. Let’s compare notes. Let me drag out my massive book of “Things That Have Gone Wrong Despite My Most Prudent of Parenting Efforts.” 

Here we go! Page 987, Chapter 88: My Children Are Disgusting.

Despite excellent oral hygiene modeling from the womb forward, and an all-access VIP pass to dental care, they don’t brush their teeth without reminders and possible threats. They are 14, 12, and 9. Like dominoes, they’ve fallen. One by one. They are now Cave-Girls.  

The WHY behind this? In my heart of hearts, I’m certain it’s because I told them there was no tooth fairy. And it made them mad. So they formed a dental revolt. 

Or perhaps, more likely, the novelty of Spider-Man toothbrushes (girls like Spider-Man!), cool My Little Pony spin brushes, bubble gum-tasting toothpaste, and daily routines that make us feel safe -- have worn the heck off!   

Also, MOST likely, it could be that they are LAZY and have the appalling hygiene habits of little piggies in all ways, and sadly -- it’s pretty normal.  

So … what to do?  

As parents, we have to monitor. It’s just what we do. A small price to pay for the large price tag and disturbing horror of the mechanics of root canals. BEEN there, done that 2 times with my 14-year-old. It's a badge of shame. You would think the FIRST root canal would have solved this dental dilemma? Nope. 

If we don’t play Dental Deputy then we meet that price tag eventually. And additionally, our cave kiddos meet an even worse fate in the way of peer groups that notice things like this. Natural consequences. Dun, Dun, DUN!

So monitor this thing. Get them through this period of time until they are more able to recognize the benefits of caring for themselves. When will that day come? I have no idea. 

I haven't read that far ahead in my massive book yet. 



P.S. The tooth fairy is real for anyone reading who still believes. Unicorns are too. And leprechauns also.


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