Teaching your child how to brush their teeth properly sets them up for a lifetime of healthy smiles. Whether your child is itching to take care of their smile themselves or you are having trouble getting a fussy child to brush, here are some helpful tips to ensure your child learns to brush their teeth the correct way and hopefully has some fun along the way.
When to Start Brushing?
Taking care of your child’s smile starts before any teeth have even erupted. A few days after your child is born, use a damp washcloth or gauze to wipe your baby’s gums after every feeding. As soon as their first tooth comes in, it is time to start brushing using a small, soft-bristled toothbrush. Brush their teeth twice a day yourself and start transitioning into letting them do it themselves around age six.
During this transition, make sure to supervise them to ensure they brush with the correct technique, use the proper amount of toothpaste, and always spit out all the toothpaste. Once they finish, it is a good habit to go over the hard-to-reach places to ensure they aren’t missing any spots.
Step-by-Step Instructions For Brushing Teeth:
- Use the Right Amount of Toothpaste: The ADA recommends using a grain-of-rice-sized amount of toothpaste for children under three years old and a pea-sized amount for kids ages three and older. Make sure your child spits out the toothpaste and never swallows it.
- Correctly Angle the Toothbrush: Angle the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle towards the gumline.
- Brush with the Proper Technique: Use tooth-sized strokes to gently brush the teeth. Make sure to entirely clean the front, back, and chewing surfaces of the teeth.
- Don’t Forget the Tongue: The tongue is full of harmful bacteria, and it must get cleaned with a toothbrush or tongue scraper every time your child brushes their teeth.
- Finish with Floss: As soon as two of your child’s teeth touch, it is time to start flossing. Guide the floss between the teeth, and be sure to curve it along the entire length of the tooth. Use a new section of floss for each tooth.
Let your child know what they are doing correctly and coach them on areas they could improve on. If your child get frustrated, remind them that just like any new skill, brushing your teeth takes practice. You can even show them a healthy smile versus an unhealthy one to demonstrate the importance of locking down the proper technique.
Make it Fun!
- Lead by Example: You have likely noticed your little one mimicking their mom putting on makeup in the mirror or pretending to shave their face like their dad. Young kids love to play pretend by imitating their parent’s actions! This is helpful when teaching them to clean their teeth. Have your child watch you brush your teeth and encourage them to try themselves. You can even try to have your child brush your teeth while you brush theirs.
- Play Some Tunes: Brushing time doesn’t have to be boring; spice it up with your kid’s favorite soundtrack. Try to shoot for songs that are about 2 minutes, so it only takes the length of one song to brush their teeth for the right amount of time.
- Let Your Child Choose: Having your child pick out a toothbrush and toothpaste that they like can get them excited about brushing time. There are tons of toothbrushes with fun cartoon characters and many flavors of toothpaste. You can even have a few toothbrushes on hand so they can choose which one they want when it comes to time to clean their smile.
Excellent oral hygiene is a life skill that your child will use for the rest of their life. Be patient and make sure to let your child know when they are doing a good job. Happy Brushing!