26, I counted. That’s how many times I asked Sophia to brush her teeth before school.
Every time I would ask her to please go brush her teeth, I was answered by a whiny voice saying things like, “Just a minute!” “I wiiiiiilllll!” and “OKAY!”
And after all that? I never actually observed her go into the bathroom, I never heard water running, and the toothbrush check after she was on the bus confirmed my suspicions: dry. Absolutely no tooth brushing had occurred.
I was sick of sounding like a broken record every morning.
“Brush your teeth. Do you have your lunch? Is your homework in your backpack? Brush your teeth. Brush your teeth. Stop bugging your sister. Brush your teeth. The bus is coming in five minutes! Brush your teeth. Brush your teeth. BRUSH YOUR TEETH!”
A random memory from high school popped into my head. I was at a party, and two of my friends were talking about the fact that they had never had a single cavity. One of them then told us that his mom’s trick was to put on a record of children’s songs every morning and that he and his brothers couldn’t stop brushing until the record was finished.
That vague memory from more than 20 years earlier gave me a great idea. So, the next morning when tooth brushing time rolled around, I had a little trick up my sleeve for when Sophia would inevitably drag her feet about her dental hygiene.
Instead of sounding like a broken record, I was going to play a music record (or, well, a YouTube video).
“Sophia, it’s time to brush your teeth.”
“Just a minute, I’m doing something!”
“Want to listen to Uptown Funk?”
“The deal is, I put it on and you have to brush your teeth the whole time you’re listening to it.”
And she ran into the bathroom, put some toothpaste on her fancy spinner toothbrush, and danced and brushed while Bruno Mars sang. It was magical.
Every morning for the rest of the school year she would choose her favorite song du jour and brush her teeth while she danced. It was fun, I stopped nagging, and most importantly, her teeth got clean.
Then summer happened, and because the bus wasn’t coming every morning the hurry to get teeth brushed wasn’t necessary. And we gradually stopped our little musical tradition. It died gradually and without notice, the way many habits do.
School started up again in September and the fight to brush Sophia’s teeth resumed in earnest. It took me a couple months to actually remember my secret weapon, but I did. She will always happily brush her teeth if I put her favorite music on my phone. The best part is that most popular music is much longer than the recommended two minutes for teeth brushing, so she is definitely getting in enough time.
I used to dread taking Sophia to the dentist. She’s a
pretty very feisty and independent kiddo, so she kicked and screamed if I ever tried to help her brush her teeth or do it for her. Once she was around two years old, any tooth brushing that happened in her mouth only happened because she did it 100% by herself. You can see why taking her to the dentist was something I didn’t look forward to!
Inevitably, she had a cavity. Inevitably, I was chastised for her lack of really good oral hygiene. Inevitably, I left feeling like the worst mom ever, even though I sometimes felt that “brush your teeth!” was the only thing I ever said to this child!
Still, I diligently took her and her two older sisters to the dentist every six months because I actually do try to be a good mom and because it is an important part of their oral hygiene. Without regular cleanings at the dentist, the bacteria build up leads to major tooth decay and much worse problems (this goes for adults, too!). Dentists also are able to catch issues early with the use of x-ray and oral exams, which is obviously very important.
When my husband was going through grad school, we did not have dental insurance. Because of this, it became cost prohibitive for us to take our children to the dentist (we had two young children at the time). When he finally got a job that did provide dental insurance, I found they had a few issues because I had not taken them to the dentist before, even though I was very diligent in having them take care of their teeth (and those two were much easier than Sophia!).
I love having dental insurance now because I can take my children to the dentist every 6 months and for extras like sealants and the occasional filling without worrying about the cost. I looked over Guardian Dental’swebsite, and while they don’t offer plans in every area, they offer individual dental plans for a reasonable price which you can purchase at any time. For my family of 5, I could pay $132 a month for a PPO plan. When a cleaning costs $50 and X-rays cost $125, it comes out to be a good deal. Especially when more than just regular cleanings and exams are needed. Guardian offers great coverage on the more expensive dental procedures like fillings or root canals. And while we hope that we don’t need them, the truth is, sometimes we do.
You’ll be happy to know that in the two years that we have been using my music trick to get Sophia to brush her teeth, she has had ZERO cavities. The dentist has taken note of the improvement and now I feel like a good mom again whenever I leave his office.
The next step is to figure out a way to get her to floss her teeth without throwing a tantrum. I’m open to any ideas! Baby steps, right?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
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