Sugar Bugs… aka, explaining oral hygiene to my kid.

You know what’s really fun? Trying to pry open a 2 year olds mouth to brush their teeth while they claw at you and yell “Mama NO! I’m all doooone!” ….. except, wait? That is not fun at all!

I found myself in this predicament recently… My little darling angel girl, who had previously been really (oddly) good about opening up and letting me thoroughly brush her teeth decided enough was enough, and she would comply no more!  Miss independent wanted to brush by herself and vehemently rejected any form of help I tried to lend her. Obviously I realized that I needed to figure out a “kid friendly” way to explain the importance of clean teeth, and quick!  The threat of cavities is lost on a toddler– Enter, sweets.

Oh yes! M&M’s, cake, donuts and peppermint patties…. all of the foods that I kept away from her for almost two years are now the key to her oral health.  She LOVES sweets (She totally got her sweet tooth from me, and I got mine from her Grampy).  She knows which coffee places sell donut holes, and where to find little packs of M&M’s at the store. If I so much as mention that it’s someones birthday her first question is if I think they will share cake with her.  She’s pretty much got it figured out.  So I decided to use it to my advantage.

I always try to explain to her healthy vs unhealthy foods, and which foods are treats.  (remember I am a little obsessed with teaching categories!) She also knows that if she doesn’t eat veggies and some protein that theres no way she will be getting a treat.  I started using the word sugar recently when talking about treats.  When she asks for cake/chocolate/donuts I say, “Oh, thats a kind of treat. It has a lot of sugar!”  Once I knew that she understood that some of her favorite treats were sugary, I introduced the concept of a Sugar Bug. 

Sugar Bug (n): An invisible little creature that lives in the mouth of and makes holes in the teeth of a toddler who loves to eat sweets.  Mom or Dad can brush it away with a toothbrush so they can’t make holes. If toddler refuses, he or she will no longer be allowed to eat “sugar” treats.


It worked like a charm.  We still foster her independence and let her have a turn with the toothbrush, but then she hands it right over and says “Can you get my sugar bugs please?”. No way is this chicky about to give up eating donuts or chocolate!!

Have any of you made random things like this?

Bex copy


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