5 Helpful Tips for Tooth Brushing
Educating children on proper oral hygiene techniques from the start is key to healthy teeth and gums throughout their life. So how do you approach tooth brushing when your child is no longer an infant?
The process can seem intimidating, but you don’t have to be one of our pediatric dentists to teach children how to brush their teeth. Remember to be patient, understanding, and encouraging as they adopt the practice at their own pace.
Continue reading to learn how you can make brushing teeth even easier with the help of 5 simple tips.
1. Choose the Right Toothbrush
Because their hands, teeth and mouths are smaller, children require appropriately sized toothbrushes. Select one for them that has a comfortable handle they’ll be able to grip and make sure it is a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Your child may need help holding the toothbrush so picking one with a thicker handle can prove to be useful as they learn.
2. Use Toothpaste with Fluoride
Fluoride is great for preventing harmful dental cavities in children and adults. Many communities across the U.S. have fluoride in their public drinking water to promote healthy teeth and gums for citizens.
for children wards off and slows down early stages of tooth decay. Depending on their age, you will need to control the amount of toothpaste that you give them.
For children under 3, only use a “smear” of fluoride toothpaste or an amount equating to a grain of rice. Once your child has turned 3, they are able to use a pea-sized amount while brushing. Be sure to monitor children while they brush their teeth to ensure toothpaste is not swallowed accidentally.
3. Break Down the Process
You can’t just expect your small child to immediately understand the process of brushing teeth. Every day children learn more and more about the world around them. If they are very young, they’ve never encountered a toothbrush let alone grasped the concept of keeping their teeth clean.
To make it easier for them, break it down into small steps. Start by showing them the toothpaste bottle and the toothbrush individually to help familiarize them with the objects. It can also be helpful to use toys as models and pretend to “brush” their teeth or have your child practice themself on a stuffed animal.
4. Have Fun When Practicing
doesn’t have to be a boring activity so make it fun! Instead of just setting a timer and monitoring your child’s brushing, turn on music to dance to or play an educational video at the same time.
If your child is more into stories, read a short one to them for 2 minutes or get creative and make up your own to keep them engaged. Transforming brushing time into an enjoyable experience will make your little one excited to repeat the process every day.
5. Reward Good Behavior
Contrary to popular belief, rewards do not have to be expensive items or unhealthy foods your child doesn’t need. Small rewards can be used responsibly as motivational tools when teaching tooth brushing.
Oral hygiene is something to celebrate. Try setting weekly goals and use stickers to mark completed days on a calendar. If your child keeps up with brushing, they can earn an extra hour of TV time, the honor of picking out a bedtime story, or their favorite dinner.
Practice Preventive Care Early
Children may not always understand the importance of tooth brushing. However, as their parent or guardian, it is up to you to teach them about oral health and why brushing at least twice a day and flossing daily are good habits to form.