Summer is almost here! For kids, this means it’s time for sweet lemonade, slushies, and smoothies. For parents, this means really making sure your child is practicing good oral hygiene practices at home to prevent tooth decay. Many people think that cavities in baby teeth don’t matter because they will fall out anyway. However, dental decay in baby teeth can negatively affect permanent teeth and lead to future dental problems. Research shows that the health of your mouth affects the health of the rest of your body. And oral hygiene needs to start early. No teeth? Simply going through the motions of cleaning the gums with a soft washcloth serves a useful purpose. And as soon as that first tooth erupts, you can start to brush!
If your kiddo is resistant to brushing those pearly whites here are some ways to make this routine fun:
- Let your child choose the toothbrush that pulls at his or her heartstrings. It may be their favorite color, have their favorite cartoon character, or it might even be an electric toothbrush. Toothbrushes with a thick handle can be easier for children to hold.
- Let your child also choose his or her own flavored fluoride toothpaste. For children under the age of 3, use a small smear of fluoride toothpaste two times per day. For children ages 3-6, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Your child’s teeth should be brushed twice each day. Once after breakfast and once before bed.
- The best way to teach children to brush their teeth is to lead by example. Allow your child to watch you brush your teeth. Come up with creative ways to keep your child engaged in the act of brushing their teeth. It may be helpful to play a game of brushing “smiling teeth” and “hidden teeth.” Whether that be singing a song or a game of copycat, your child should brush their teeth for the recommended 2 minutes. There are even toothbrushes with a 2-minute timer to help children (and parents!) figure this out. Most children do not have the dexterity to brush their teeth on their own until the age of 7 or 8. Be sure to supervise your child when they are brushing their teeth and do the actual brushing if necessary.
With proper coaching, your child will adopt good oral hygiene as a part of his or her daily routine and can keep those pearly whites healthy for a lifetime.
Toothbrushing Tips for Young Children
What song do you sing when teaching your children to brush their teeth?