Tooth brushing. With 4 kids, ages 7 and under, tooth brushing is a real ordeal around here. It's also something really important to Joshua and me, since we want our children to have good dental health and good hygiene habits from a very young age.
Our goal is for tooth brushing to happen twice a day, and flossing (with one of those handy plastic flossers) before bed. Now, I never feel like brushing 10 sets of teeth each day (4 kids + my own teeth, 2 times a day is a lot of brushing, even if Joshua does some of it!). So, I let the older ones (ages 3, 5, and 7) brush their own teeth in the morning, and just help with the bedtime brushing and flossing.
And somehow, almost magically, our bathroom was never clean. Toothpaste was being smeared in the strangest places. I'd find toothpaste smudged on the door, the mirror, the wall, and of course -- the bathroom counter. And the tube of toothpaste was emptying way too quickly.
We tried putting the toothpaste in a high bathroom cupboard, to be dispensed only by Mom in the morning. But I couldn't seem to make it back there to help dispense toothpaste, as having it "up and out of the way" made it even more inconvenient to remember and do all the brushing.
Joshua came up with a solution that has been working brilliantly for a few months now. We put the toothbrushes and toothpaste in the kitchen. I use a little cup on my window sill, so the toothbrushes can air dry and stay clean, while still being out of the way and easily accessible.
In the morning when we're done with breakfast and taking our dishes to the sink, the toothbrushes are right there, waiting for me to put toothpaste on them. I usually send the kids back to the bathroom one at a time to brush and then bring their toothbrush back to me (so it doesn't end up on the bathroom floor or who knows where else!). And the baby (1 year old) gets his teeth brushed right at the kitchen sink.
This setup has helped our toothpaste last a LOT longer. :) (Read more frugal tips at Frugal Fridays!)
I've found the best prices on children's' toothbrushes at places like Big Lots, dollar stores, or Wal-Mart. I try to find a package with at least 2 toothbrushes in it for around $1. If I'm not sure of the quality of the toothbrushes, I just buy one package to see how nice they are. I've been surprised that the more expensive toothbrushes are not always the better ones!
I also give the kids a new toothbrush whenever theirs is getting worn and frayed. This seems to be every 2-3 months. A new toothbrush really works a lot better than an old one, so this is an area where I do not try to "save" by making-do with an old toothbrush, for both us and the children.
Here is a post I wrote about using xylitol to improve dental health, and a delicious affordable alternative to purchasing flavored xylitol mints:
Xylitol: Promoting dental health naturally and frugally
I've not been 100% consistent in using xylitol (life gets in the way sometimes!), but my teeth are so much cleaner when I do use it! :)
Would you mind sharing an update regarding how you like(ed?) using this system? We're considering trying it in our family. Thanks! :)
Do I still follow Dr. Ellie's dental system for cleaning my teeth? Yes -- partially. :) Originally (3-4 years ago) I had to add a WaterPik to my routine because of a tooth that was breaking/broken and needed to be kept really clean. (I also didn't chew on that side of my mouth. Do you know how much better food tastes when you're chewing with your whole mouth and tongue?!)
At the end of last year, I finally got that tooth fixed. I had been able to keep away infection and be pain-free for over 3 years with Dr. Ellie's system, but the tooth was much too decayed to remineralize or heal.
After all my research, I did go with a root canal and crown, as I felt my risk factors for the root canal were low (no infection present, very skilled dentist who only does root canals, the "safest" packing material for the root canal, etc.) and I was comfortable getting it fixed in that way. :)
All that to say, I no longer need to use the WaterPik, but I still do use and like it! I also floss once a day, which is not part of Dr. Ellie's "system". If I remember right, she "allows" something like a WaterPik or flossing to be added to "the system" without a problem.
The parts of her system I do use are the toothpaste (Crest Original Paste) and rinses (Listerine and Act), in "her" order. The toothpaste really does seem to work the best for us all around. I use small amounts for the children who can spit. I have tried fluoride-free toothpaste and even with good brushing habits, our teeth had plaque build-up.
I think there is room for differences in dental care, and you should definitely find and use what you're comfortable with! I'm very thankful that through all the reading I've done and since finding and using Dr. Ellie's system, our family's dental health has improved. (Having dental insurance now helps too.) :)
Got any tips for tooth brushing with kids? Tell me in the comments! :)