antonia kidmanjpegGetting your littlies to brush their teeth can be a nightmare. They just don't see the point. And if you're trying to protect your fort from marauding dragons, would you stop to shine your pearly whites? No, it probably wouldn't be your priority either. So how do you encourage good oral hygiene, and teach them to wield their toothbrushes as well as they wield their lightsabers?

Well, I posed that question to Antonia Kidman, mother of 6 (all with their own teeth). It comes as no surprise that she says routine is key. "Keep reminding them “morning and night, morning and night” until it becomes a fully established habit. You may have to show them how, apply the right measure of toothpaste, and lend a little elbow grease at the beginning, but if you don't show them exactly, they'll never learn. It's just like anything else really".

And then there are lollies to think about. Weaning them off lollies altogether is never going to happen, so don't even try. And as for relying on them to make sensible choices when you're not there to remind them – forget it! When the cat's away, the mice will eat as many lollies as they can get their paws on. So, according to Antonia, the only thing you can do is to control what goes into your pantry, and therefore what goes into their mouths at home.

Nobody loves going to the dentist, but it's got to be easier to get them there to pick up their “I've got shinny teeth” stickers, than to drag them there to have their cavities filled. Antonia's kids have their teeth checked every six months, and that way she can rest assured that their teeth are strong and healthy. It's probably not their favourite pastime, but is preferable to sore gums and an afternoon with the dentist's drill.

Oral hygiene isn't a fun topic, but doing a boring, repetitive task is preferable for sure, when you compare it to the potential bigger problem in the longer term, isn't it?

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