Life

Ask the Dentist: Keeping kids brushing during lockdown might mean parents keeping quiet - for a couple of days anyway

Lucy Stock, dentist at Gentle Dental Care in Belfast, advises parents on how best to ensure that kids of all ages keep brushing their teeth during lockdown

For young children, fun YouTube videos can be helpful in persuading them to brush their teeth
Lucy Stock

ALL week my husband has been passing me newspaper cuttings about people pulling their own teeth out and attempting unsuccessfully to fill their own teeth with various household materials.

His cup was overflowing with supportive brownie points – "Yes, I agree darling, dentists need to be released from lockdown" – then zerrript: he passes me the pink paper and, in all seriousness, motions me to read "How to maintain five-star standards at home." Nervous laughter, followed by the Tom and Jerry 50 ton weight falling from the ceiling and splatting him flat as a pancake before waddling out the door.

The collective dental itch to get back to work just got itchier. It needs to be scratched so that we can get back to work, and soon, before it's necessary for me to paint myself lilac (keeping away from inflammatory colours) and chain myself to the railings at Stormont, which is looking increasingly attractive.

Being in the lockdown doldrums is tough, with people mainlining sugar, and keeping up with the kids' toothbrushing becoming more tiresome. As one of my friend's sons put it, he is tired of hearing the same voice all day telling him to tidy his room, open his books, stop playing on the computer and brush his teeth.

So, time to hit the reset button and do something different. If you're stuck in the toothbrush fight with your kids day-in-day-out, take a break for a couple of days to diffuse the situation. Totally ignore toothbrushing to change the atmosphere and, when the temperature around the subject has cooled, try something different.

For young children, you can bring on the hyper coloured, high pitched, hyper happy YouTube videos that kids love and can brush along with. Resist the temptation to take over and encourage them to do it themselves with a different softer tone than was used in the past – it's OK, you don't need to go as far as cartoon screechy.

Make sure that your child likes the taste of the toothpaste as sometimes this can put them off. Curaprox have lots of different types of flavours that some kids prefer.

For older children I would bring on the electric toothbrush, as time is limited, ensuring that it's charged.

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