Sometimes it seems just impossible to brush your child’s teeth. Whether it’s the toothbrush, toothpaste flavor, or just a habit they are not interested in doing, like changing a diaper, it can seem daunting to do each day. Yet, because we know that brushing habits in early childhood determine your oral health patterns for adulthood, it is important to establish fun and simple routines to brush your child’s teeth.
Brushing daily is obviously important because it helps keep their teeth and gums healthy, and can help prevent cavities and other dental problems. In fact, it is the number one way to help protect your child’s teeth against tooth decay, which is the number one chronic illness in childhood.
Nearly every parent wonders, when is the first time they should be bringing their child to the dentist for the first time. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends every child go for their first dental visit by the time of their first birthday or when the first tooth erupts, whichever occurs first. This early visit is to establish good dental habits and educate parents on brushing, diet, and monitoring dental eruption patterns.
Teaching your child how to brush their teeth correctly can be a challenge, but it’s important to start early and make it fun. Here are some simple tips on how to teach your child to brush his teeth.
Set a Good Example
The best way to teach your child good brushing habits is by setting a good example yourself. Make sure that you are brushing twice a day with the correct technique, and let your child watch you do it. This will help them understand the importance of brushing their teeth, as well as show them how it’s done.
Have your child stand with you while you brush so it can become a fun family routine. Sometimes children like to mimic what adults do – whether it is putting makeup on, brushing hair, etc. If you show your child brushing teeth is a fun thing to do, they are more likely to want to join in.
Choose the Right Toothbrush
Choosing the right toothbrush for your child is important for teaching them proper brushing techniques. When you put your child in the driver’s seat by letting them pick a fun toothbrush, they will be more excited to brush each morning and night.
Look for a toothbrush with soft bristles that will be gentle on their gums, as well as one that is the right size for their mouth. You should also make sure that the toothbrush has an easy-to-grip handle so they can hold it properly while they brush.
There are so many options for kids’ toothbrushes, so make sure it is an ADA approved toothbrush. You can always ask your dental professional about electric or manual brushes to see what is the best option for your child.
Make Brushing Fun
Making brushing fun can help encourage your child to brush their teeth regularly and correctly. Try playing games while they brush or letting them pick out their own toothbrush with fun designs or colors. You can also reward them with stickers or small prizes when they do a good job brushing their teeth each day.
Many electric toothbrushes like Sonicare Kids offer smartphone apps to help engage kids while they are brushing. They also have timers to help educate kids on the proper brushing technique and length of time to brush.
Explain Proper Technique
Explaining proper technique is key when teaching your child how to brush his teeth correctly. Show him/her how to hold the toothbrush at an angle against his gums, and explain why it’s important to brush all sides of each tooth thoroughly. Demonstrate how long he/she should brush (2 minutes) and remind him/her not to forget about their tongue!
There are child friendly dental models that help encourage the correct brushing and flossing technique so kids can visually see teeth on a model. Children typically flourish when it comes to visuals so watching videos online or getting an educational model is a highly recommended way to help educate children on how to brush their teeth.
The next time you are at your dental visit, ask your dental hygienist to show the proper brushing technique. They will be more than happy to show the correct way to brush near the gum line and in tiny circles to cover all areas of the tooth!
Encourage Regular Brushing
Brushing your teeth should be like washing your hands after using the restroom. You need to establish early habits that brushing should be twice daily – after breakfast and before bedtime. Remind your child about the importance of brushing twice a day and explain why it is important. It is good to let them know about preventing tooth decay, but the reason why brushing is necessary is because it removes plaque and food debris that contribute to cavities and gum disease.
A healthy smile is the best feeling smile and when you show positive reinforcement, your child will be more likely to want to brush his/her teeth without being reminded.
Learning to brush your child’s teeth is one of the earliest oral and general health habits you will establish in parenthood. Developing good oral health habits at home sets your child up for a lifetime of preventative care habits as adults, which yields healthier and more beautiful smiles. Whenever in doubt, always reach out to your dentist about concerns if you are brushing properly so you are on your way to a cleaner, rejuvenated smile. Our team is here to help, contact us today to learn more!