One of the hardest jobs for parents to do is to keep their kids healthy and happy. Brushing your teeth is just one important daily health routine that all kids should learn how to do early. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that by the time children attend kindergarten, over 40 percent will have some amount of tooth decay. And while kids grow out of their baby teeth, good practices and a clean slate of health to start school with is vital.
Learning to brush your teeth properly and habitually early on in life can save you money on dental bills and protect your children from awful dental diseases. But you may be asking, how do we as parents get kids to regularly follow a routine without hovering over them every time? What can we do to help our kids?
When it comes to teaching your kids how to take care of their teeth, you deserve all the help you can get. Today, you will learn 7 top parenting tips for teaching your kids how to brush their teeth properly and regularly. These tips cover everything from habit-forming exercises to proper brushing technique.
1) Understand That Brushing Teeth Changes As We Age
Before diving into the ‘how tos’ of brushing your kids’ teeth, you should know about the anatomical changes that occur as children age from infant to 8 years old, as well as some information on the equipment you will be using. Parents must always use age-appropriate toothbrushes at whatever stage your child is in development and always brush at least twice per day, morning and night, for best results.
For newborn infants, always clean their mouths after every feeding and use a wet cloth or xylitol wipe in order to flush out any residual food in their mouths. As teeth start to develop, make sure to brush them regularly.
For toddlers less than 2 years of age, they should begin learning how to spit out their toothpaste while still under parental supervision. As kids age into the 2-5 year old range, you can ask them to rinse out their mouths with water after brushing and start brushing their teeth on their own. And last, children 6 years and older should be able to perform brushing and flossing on their own.
2) The Toothbrush
What kind of toothbrush should use, and what else should you know about your child’s toothbrush? First, either a non-electric or electric toothbrush is fine for use on a child. It is generally recommended that soft-bristle toothbrushes be used over hard-bristle because baby teeth are more fragile to abrasion than adult teeth.
Second, your child’s toothbrush should be replaced every three to four months on average due to the buildup of harmful germs. Toothbrushes should be replaced sooner after your child contracts the flu or a cold since the reintroduction of those bad germs will happen more quickly.
3) The Toothpaste
Next, what kind of toothpaste should you use, and how should your child’s toothpaste change as he or she ages. First, should you choose toothpaste with or without fluoride? During an infant’s first year, fluoridated toothpaste is generally not recommended, however, please consult your dentist or pediatrician on your child’s conditions.
Second, during their toddler stage, children should begin to use fluoride toothpaste with a pea-sized dot of toothpaste. Learning to spit out this fluoride toothpaste at this stage will strengthen their enamel for future development, however, to be clear, parents should always monitor their children’s brushing habits during this stage of development.
4) How To Brush
Now that you know the background of pediatric dental health for children up to age 8, the next step is to learn how to properly brush and floss your children’s teeth. The first step for brushing teeth is to angle the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums on both the upper and lower teeth. This will ensure that your child is reaching both the front of each tooth and the gums together.
Second, continue brushing in short strokes along the inside and outside of each tooth. In order to reach the backs of the upper and lower incisors, or front teeth, angle the brush into an upright position. Finally, make sure to brush the child’s tongue to remove any surface bacteria. This will reduce the spread of harmful bacteria to the rest of the mouth.
5) How To Floss
Since your child has brushed, it is important for them to learn how to floss as well. Flossing is important because it eliminates the harmful bacteria hiding in between the teeth and gums. Children should begin to floss as soon as the teeth surfaces come in contact with one another, and they should floss at least once per day.
To floss, hold a short length of floss between your thumb and index finger. Insert the floss between each tooth, so as to make a C-shape motion up to the gums. Be sure to apply a firm, but too hard, pressure all along the inside surface. Be sure to use a different section of floss for each tooth gap to avoid any transfer of plaque or bacteria.
6) Strategies On How To Teach Brushing How To Floss
As mentioned before, every child will be ready to brush at different ages, but here are a few strategies to help ease your child into their daily brushing routine. The simplest and easiest way for parents to get their children to brush their teeth is the partner technique.
This technique involves the child mimicking his or her parent while they brush together. When your child begins to feel comfortable with brushing after some time, start asking him or her to watch you brush your teeth and then have him or her mimic you.
Make sure to practice good technique and go through each motion step-by-step, so your child can follow along. Continue easing off on the instruction until your child can brush on his or her own.
7) Advice On Continued Brushing Habits
As your child ages and becomes independent, he or she may not continue to keep up on some of their brushing or flossing requirements. For this reason, it is important to set good dental hygiene habits early on, so your child does not see brushing as a chore but more as a fun and healthy activity.
One method of forming a good habit for your child’s daily brushing is to block a set amount of time each day for brushing. Scheduling will make the chore of brushing seem secondhand to the child, and that habit will strengthen over time.
Learning Proper Brushing Early Will Result In A Lifetime Of Healthy Smiles
As parents, it is normal to struggle with your children to teach them the best practices that will keep them happy and healthy for a long time. That is why learning the best pediatric dentistry practices will ensure that you and your child will learn how to brush or floss effectively.
Always make sure to consult your dentist or pediatrician first before applying these tips, since each child may require a different timeline for learning or different equipment to brush their teeth with. And finally, remember to make brushing and flossing a fun activity and not a chore.
Christina Cheryl is a freelance writer who has been blogging about health and family for nearly 10 years. When she’s not brushing up against a deadline, she enjoys hiking with her husband and two boys.