According to the Clinical Affairs Committee, almost half of all children have cavities before they enter kindergarten. In fact, the #1 disease afflicting kids today IS tooth decay. The best way to keep your child from being one of those statistics? Teaching good, consistent oral hygiene habits. How do I teach my kids to brush their teeth is a common question that comes off.
You’re probably aware baby teeth act as placeholders for your permanent teeth. Therefore, it’s important that these placeholders are strong and create a good foundation for permanent teeth when the time comes.
In fact, you can begin instilling good ‘tooth brushing’ habits before your child’s baby teeth begin to appear. Gently wipe their gums with a wet cloth (something soft) or an infant-sized toothbrush wet with water. No teeth? No toothpaste!
As odd as this sounds, most dentists like to see your child before their first birthday (earlier, if their first tooth breaks the surface). As soon as you see that first tooth, it’s time to start developing good brushing habits!
But toothpaste should not be used until your child can spit the toothpaste out on their own. You’ll probably need to continue to brush for them until they’re 2-3 years old, but they’ll need supervision until at least 6-8 years old.
If you have a toddler who needs help learning to brush, it’s best to brush their teeth for them first, then ask them to mimic what you’ve done.
Simply place them on your lap, facing away from you. Get a toddler-sized toothbrush which is typically softer and has a smaller head. If you child can spit, you can then place a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the brush. Just a little bit will do the job.
Other tips for helping your child learn good oral hygiene:
- Tell your child what you’re doing before you do it. Surprises are great at birthdays and Christmas, but NOT when you’re putting something ‘yucky and foreign’ into their mouths.
- Make sure you keep the toothbrush angled at 45 degrees to the gum line in order to ensure you reach where plaque tends to accumulate.
- Try some games (a few were suggested in a previous post) to make tooth brushing time fun!
- Make sure you schedule time with your dentist to encourage good oral hygiene and a love of going to the dentist.
In addition to this topic, we’re pleased to offer a FREE report that provides information vital to you and your child forming good dental habits. Why not get your copy now? Patient’s Guide To Sedation For Dentistry, is just a click away. And it’s absolutely FREE.