A Joy of Parenting: Brushing Your Child's Teeth

The fact that I am in charge of other people's very basic needs is scary sometimes, and a bit overwhelming. I must make sure my three children eat a balanced diet, sleep the required amount of hours needed every night, take baths or showers daily, and learn other basic hygiene skills that they will need to continue for the rest of their lives.

I have to admit, the one need that has become a bit irritating of late is teaching them how to, and remembering to remind them, that we need to brush their teeth at least one per day, twice if we are lucky. I don't remember this being a big deal until I had three little mouths that I was trying to scrub. This hygiene skill is a very important one, so there really is no way around it. And if I don't do a good job of it, they have to get fillings, and I have to pay for said fillings. 

It's just easier if we take this one serious.

The brushing of teeth has become like an assembly line ordeal, with turn taking, fighting about toothbrushes, choosing toothpaste flavors, bickering over which child gets which cup to rinse with, arguing about who took whose little plastic flosser, etc, etc... I just want to pull my hair out some nights.

If my kids could brush their teeth themselves, that would be different. But they can't. Not for a long, long time. They just don't have the ability to do a good job yet. This doesn't stop them from trying though, so in addition to their 2 minutes of unproductive scrubbing, I then have to do the deed at least another minute more to make sure it was done right. By the time it is my turn to assist, they are thoroughly sick of doing it and scream and cry most of the time.

It has helped that the last few weeks my oldest son has been learning about oral care and hygiene in school. He is very interested in taking care of his teeth right now and is weirdly excited to do it. An orthodontist even talked to his class, gifting my son with both valuable knowledge and a nice little teeth "care package." The downside of him learning this "valuable knowledge" about his teeth is that he has been a little annoying about some of the rules he feels he must now follow religiously.

"Mom!" he screams cautiously, "You're teeth are going to turn green if you drink that!" (This has been said for every soda I have drank in front of him for the last two weeks).

"Mom! That food has an entire baggie of sugar in it!" (Referring to when the orthodontist brought in foods and showed the kids, using measurements of sugar in baggies, just how much was in certain ones).

"Mom, I can't eat that, it sticks to my teeth, so I just throw them away." (After nearly two weeks of putting granola bars in his lunch, adding up to about $15 bucks in snacks that were apparently thrown directly into the garbage).

"I have to brush for a long time." (This one seems like more of an extension of the time between brushing and bedtime than it does a necessary rule he is following. It also seems like he is trying to annoy his siblings by taking a really long time in the assembly line.)

"Sister, I see bugs crawling on your teeth." (She then cries, screams, he laughs, and I intervene. I have to admit that I have said this to him when he has refused to brush, he just strategically repeats the phrase when he knows it will get a rise out of her).

Teeth brushing has literally become a contender for one my least favorite bedtime routine events, ranking up there with getting my kids to actually fall asleep and getting them to sleep in their own rooms.

Please tell me I'm not alone on this one?

Waiting in line to brush.

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