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Tips and resources for healthy family routines -- for your mornings, during your daily schedule, and on to bedtime.

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WebMD Expert Discussion: Avoiding Brushing Battles

How do you teach your toddler to brush? How do you convince your 10-year-old to stick with it?

It’s tough to convince a child of any age to brush regularly. But in this online discussion in Healthy Family Routines, Tanya Altmann, MD, offers some age-specific recommendations:

  • Sing silly songs with your toddler while you help him brush.
  • Use an egg timer so your kindergartener knows how long to brush.
  • Motivate your teenager to return to a neglected brushing habit by pointing out the downside of bad breath.

One woman shared an inventive game that she plays with her toddler at brushing time: chasing the “sugar bugs.” The little girl points out where the “sugar bugs” are hiding in her mouth, mom goes after them with the toothbrush, and when the child spits, mom washes the “sugar bugs” down the drain.

Another mom has achieved toothbrushing success by challenging her daughter with a series of contests: “I bet you can’t blow as many bubbles as I can!” She recommended a bubble-gum flavored fluoride mouthwash after brushing.

Some kids don’t mind brushing, while others are harder to motivate. One mom reported that her 19-month-old loves to hold the brushes -- he has two to hold, one for each hand, and one for brushing -- but he still resists when Mom or Dad tries to actually get into his mouth.

One of the biggest challenges -- one that all moms agreed on, and that no one had yet some up with a solution for -- was keeping a toddler from just sucking all the toothpaste off the brush within the first few seconds after putting it in his mouth! Some use finger brushes, but at least one mom said she fears a bite now that her son has 16 teeth.

Discussion led by Tanya Altmann, MD Guest Expert
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Guest Expert What is a guest expert?

Tanya Altmann, MD, FAAP, is a best-selling author, a working mother, and a UCLA-trained pediatrician, practicing in Southern California.

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Healthy Family Poll

Which of these family routines is the most challenging?

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