Teaching your child to brush their teeth can be a twice-daily struggle that parents often dread, but as dentists, we know that it is an important life skill that they need to learn. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay (cavities) remains the most common chronic disease among children ages six to nine. Untreated tooth decay can cause a variety of problems in children including eating, speaking, playing and even learning. Children who have poor oral health often miss more school and receive lower grades than children who don’t.
Keep reading to learn a few tips on teaching your child to brush their teeth. Remember, toothbrushing can be fun!
Establish an Oral Hygiene Routine Early
At the Landing Dental Spa, we believe it is imperative to start oral hygiene early. Did you know that you can start dental care before your child’s first tooth even arrives? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wiping down an infant’s gums nightly with a soft, damp cloth and switching to a toothbrush when their teeth come in (usually around six months of age). Flossing can begin once teeth start touching (typically around age 2 or 3). Additionally, a child’s first visit to the dentist should be around their first birthday. This allows any potential problems to be spotted early.
As your child gets older, make sure to brush their teeth twice a day with a toothpaste containing fluoride. It is also recommended by the CDC that you give your child drinking water that contains fluoride, like tap water, and talk to your child’s dentist about applying sealants to add a thin layer of protection on the top of their teeth.
Start and Stick to A Routine
We know it can be tempting to be lax on your child’s tooth brushing routine, but we recommend against that. According to the American Dental Association, the more second nature brushing becomes, the easier it will be to make sure your child is brushing twice a day for two minutes.
Additionally, as parents, we need to set a good example for our children when it comes to brushing their teeth. If we are not following the guidelines we have set in place for our children, children will not want to follow them either. Allena Willis Kennerly, DMD, owner of Smashing Smiles Orthodontics in Washington, D.C., says, “A child emulates whatever a parent is doing … if your child regularly sees you flossing, they are more likely to floss.”
Make Tooth-Brushing Fun!
There are many ways to turn toothbrushing into a fun activity! From dancing, storytelling, positive reinforcement to apps and more, there are various ways to make some pretty great memories with your little one while teaching them all about oral health.
Check out our infographic below for some more ideas on how you can make tooth brushing fun:
Reward Your Child’s Good Brushing Habits
It is important to understand what motivates your child. When it comes to brushing their teeth, rewarding a child for doing it will help stimulate their tooth brushing habits. Here are a few ideas from the American Dental Association on ways to reward:
- If your child likes stickers, make a reward chart and let them add one every time they brush.
- If your child enjoys reading, let them pick out the bedtime story.
- Maybe it’s positive reinforcement and as simple as saying “I’m so proud of you” and following up with a huge high five!
Schedule Routine Dentist Appointments
We recommend that you and your child see your dentist twice a year for the best overall oral health. The Landing Dental Spa conducts dental exams and cleanings to help patients minimize the risk of cavities, gum disease, enamel wear, gingivitis and periodontitis.
We believe it is especially important for children to take part in preventive dentistry.
Pediatric Dentistry | The Landing Dental Spa
At The Landing Dental Spa, we want to take care of the whole family. Preventive oral care starts as a child, and we believe that healthy oral habits that start early will continue throughout an individual’s life.
During a pediatric appointment, we will provide a comprehensive report, including:
- Oral exams
- Assessments for straightening teeth or correcting bites
- Cavity repairs
- Repairing dental injuries (broken teeth)
To schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, fill out the contact form or give us a call at 304-594-2200.