Personalized Toothbrushes: Fun for Kids and Sanity-Saving for Parents

If you, like many parents, struggle to get your children to brush their teeth, you may be at your wit's end. In fact, you might even be tempted to throw in the towel and lay off good brushing habits. Your children are going to lose their baby teeth eventually anyway, so does it really matter? Good oral health habits set the stage for hygiene habits in the future. At some point, your children will be responsible for their own teeth. If you don't give them the tools to do a good job, they may face dental problems down the road. Enter personalized toothbrushes! Kids are notorious for being willing to do otherwise undesirable things if they have a role and a choice in the process.

Your local drugstore might sell personalized toothbrushes that come with stickers. Your child can choose the ones he likes the most and stick them to his toothbrush. But you don't have to spring for these if you already have a large stash of stickers lying around the house. Purchase a plain toothbrush at the store and let your child choose stickers from his art box to decorate it with. Or use brightly colored tempura paints and a small paintbrush, letting him paint small dots, swirls or his name on his toothbrush. Let the paint dry before brushing.

Letting your child custom design his personalized toothbrush and have a hand in its appearance goes a long way toward motivating him to actually use it. You likely will still have to stand nearby and put the finishing touches on the brushing job, but getting to admire his handiwork every morning and night is fun and motivating. If his skills start to lag or he loses interest in brushing, buy a new toothbrush and start over. Fortunately, toothbrushes are inexpensive and won't break the bank if you decorate a new one every month or so.

A word about safety: Stickers can be a choking hazard for toddlers. Make sure the stickers are firmly attached when you decorate the toothbrush, and check it every few days to make sure stickers aren't coming loose. Remove any peeling stickers and replace them. If your child chooses to paint his toothbrush, make sure you use nontoxic paint.

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