Creative Homes tackles toothbrushing tantrums

by creativehomestdlp

It may not be the most exciting part of the day but we all know that toothbrushing is important, and generally by a certain age we learn to incorporate it into our daily routine. For some children this isn’t an issue but for others toothbrushing can be the cause of many, many tantrums. We’ve even heard of toothbrushing becoming such a point of tension that some families have decided to abandon it altogether.

But brushing for young children is very important and can lead to further oral health problems if it is neglected. The National Dental Epidemiology Programme for England oral health survey of five-year-old children (2012) found that “overall 27.9% of five-year-old children in England….experienced dental decay (33% London).”

Such a high level of tooth decay seems to indicate that many parents are struggling to maintain a regular tooth brushing routine. So when Jenny told us about her difficulties getting her youngest child, Grace (2), to brush her teeth, we were excited to take on the challenge.

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Grace was so unwilling to have her teeth brushed that Jenny had to swaddle her in a towel to keep her under control

Of course there are lots of products aimed at problematic toothbrushing already, from tooth shaped dolls to singing plastic heads with flashing teeth. But none of these had appealed to or been useful for Jenny. We wanted to work with Jenny and her family, using our Creative Homes approach of designing through play, in order to find a solution that would fit their needs.

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Playing with bean bags during the consultation visit

The Creative Homes experience always starts with a consultation visit to the family home. Through picnics, treasure hunts and games we get to know the family, their lifestyle and how they use their space.

After the consultation the design process begins. We identify the families needs and try to meet them through a creative challenge, which could be a visit from a character, a prototype product, craft pack, or other resource.

For Jenny, husband Dan, Grace, and Leila(4) we wanted to help establish a sense of routine inspired by play, in which toothbrushing could be a fun experience, so we created A Visit from the Tooth Fairy.

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Through performance, song, play and a range of prototype resources, the story of the Tooth Fairy who loves to garden was brought to life and even Olivia was excited to use her toothbrush and join in the brushing song.

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The Tooth Fairy tells her story using the illustrated story tiles

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Fairy Paste, made from the Tooth Fairy’s own recipe

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Decorating a tooth basket for keeping brush and paste in

Jenny and her family were then able to use these resources to establish a routine that worked best for them, the most successful being the rhythmic toothbrushing song that incorporates NHS brushing guidelines and the sparkly fairy paste.

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Grace is now much more willing to have her teeth brushed

After such a successful start, we are currently in the second phase of developing Creative Homes, exploring another exciting area with a new family (watch this space for updates).

But we haven’t forgotten about the Tooth Fairy. We’ve talking to Dr. Jenny Gallaghar, Head of Dental Health at King’s College, about how the experience could be incorporated into the wider dental service. We’re also excited to hear from other families who are interested in how A Visit from the Tooth Fairy could support healthy dental practice at home.

If you’d like to find out more about booking A Visit from the Tooth Fairy or products to support playful brushing, please contact Sally at 07817176018 or sally@tdlp.co.uk

Or if you have any toothbrushing experiences, good or bad, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

Finally we’d like to say a big thank you to Jenny, Grace, Leila and Dan for taking part in the first ever Visit from the Tooth Fairy, we’re not the only ones who are happy they did…

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