Encouraging children to brush their teeth can often feel like an uphill battle. That’s why it’s imperative to teach your child to brush even before his/her first tooth pops out! The earlier you engage your child in positive (and fun) teeth brushing rituals, the better the chances of avoiding battles. Watch out—with any luck the process of brushing teeth may even become a fun activity …. for both of you!
Get Ready for Seven Ways to Teach Your Child to Brush Like a Boss!
Did you know that the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a first dental visit as early as the arrival of your child’s first tooth? The AAPD further suggests that your child see the dentist by his/her first birthday. In between, or before your child’s first pediatric dental visit, you can begin to establish healthy oral hygiene habits by wiping the gums with a clean, moist washcloth.
Once children have all of their baby (or primary) teeth, usually around age three, it’s a perfect time for teaching teeth brushing to preschoolers. They’ll love having ownership of their very own toothbrush and toothpaste. It never hurts, too, to give young children a little extra incentive to keep those pearly whites glowing, growing, and smiling in tip-top shape. Check out seven simple, fun ways to promote healthy brushing habits for kids:
1) Fight Cavities with Fairy Tales
Kids might not understand why it’s so important to brush their teeth every morning and night. Explain it to them in a kid-friendly way by incorporating a story about plaque monsters, or the “Cavity King” who are in kinship with the sugar bugs! By brushing, your child can be the hero of the day by keeping cavities at bay.
2) Give them the Brushing Goods
Okay, we won’t sugarcoat it—having a toothbrush that sings and lights up is probably going to be annoying. Resigning yourself to this fact is a small price to pay for encouraging good dental habits!
3) Tooth Brush Angles with Analogies
Examples: “Brush in circles like a choo-choo train’s wheels.” “Hold the brush like you’re blowing bubbles.” “Sing the alphabet twice then you’re done!” All good examples of getting kids to brush the right way. Teach your child to brush properly by showing them how to hold their brushes and the correct motion to use—tight circles or up and down. Make sure they know never to brush back and forth!
4) Let them be the Boss
Let your child pick out his/her toothbrush and toothpaste and show them how to do it without assuming control unless they really need help. By age three, children should be using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on a soft-bristled, child-sized toothbrush. Before then, toddlers only need toothpaste the size of a rice grain.
5) Reward Him/Her for Doing Well
We make a big deal about everything a kid does when he/she is growing up—using the potty for the first time, learning to tie his/her shoes, for example. Embrace brushing teeth with the same enthusiasm. Stickers, a five-minute bedtime extension, and simply a big hug can go along way.
6) Encourage Questions, Consult Others
There’s never a wrong question when it comes to teaching teeth brushing to kids. Encourage your little one to ask questions about why it’s important to brush. If you can’t answer a question, don’t be afraid to pull up “steps to brush teeth with pictures” or find a “tooth brushing video for toddlers,” for supporting information.
7) Find a Child-Friendly Dentist
You want your children to have a great experience and learn that the dentist isn’t scary. Make sure your dental provider has an experienced, friendly, and knowledgeable team that work with kids often!
The younger your child is when he/she learns the right way to brush, the better his/her chances are for developing lasting, habits to encourage good dental hygiene and overall positive health.
Dr. Ravin and the entire Hospital Dental Group office not only have extensive experience in working with kids, they love them! If you’d like more tips on how to teach your child to brush or would like to schedule a visit, please call us today, 860-524-5194.