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I love having a large family. The super-sized noise, laundry, and meals don’t bother me (though I’ll admit, I’d love to get more sleep at night).
When our kids were younger we usually ended the day with a read aloud on the couch and a prayer. Then hugs, kisses and off to bed. I survived ten kids under ten by knowing if I could make it until 8 pm I was home free. One thing that did wear on my was teeth brushing. Six, eight or ten kids means a whole lot of teeth that need to be brushed and flossed. Have you ever sent your kids to brush their teeth only to have them return seventeen seconds later to let you know they were “all done”? Yeah, me too. So, basically, I brushed all of my kids’ teeth for a really long time. I had to personally floss one son’s teeth until he was ten years old because he did such a lousy job.
Here are a few things we have done to make teeth brushing in a large family go a bit smoother.
Bite the bullet and spend the few extra pennies on flossers instead of traditional dental floss (we use these). Many years ago my kids’ dentist told me, “I could almost, almost tell you that if you flossed regularly, you wouldn’t even need a dentist”. In his opinion, flossing was more important than brushing. My (biological) children all have crowded teeth. Without regular flossing (even if they brush three times a day) they will get cavities. After that conversation, we started being diligent about flossing and the number of cavities our kids were getting dropped to almost zero. These are well worth the pennies spent.
2. Brush and floss their teeth while they are lying down.
That same dentist gave me this amazing tip. He told me to have the kids lie down while I brushed their teeth. He explained that it was much easier to reach the child’s teeth. Think about it, there is a reason the dentist has you lie down during your dental exam. We switched to this method and found it so much easier to get those little teeth clean!
3. Find toothpaste they like (or skip it all together).
The same dentist who told me to have my kids lie down while we brushed and flossed their teeth told me toothpaste was not absolutely necessary. Yes, the fluoride can be good but mainly it is for flavor and comfort. If you child hates toothpaste, skip it and still brush, guilt free! My personal favorite is Toms of Maine Fennel. It takes like black licorice (yum!) My kids prefer the strawberry.
4. Buy a toothbrush timer
5. Have a bedtime routine
Whether it is stories, together, audio books or a song, establishing a routine makes everything easier. I really love Soule Mama’s idea of bedtime bags to ease the evening transition. Our bedtime routine has changed very little over the years. Books, tidying up, toothbrushing…it’s all still there.
Do you have any great tips for brushing and flossing little teeth?