One of the best things you can give your child is the knowledge of how to properly brush their teeth and take care of their gums.
Children need to learn the proper way to brush their teeth and realize that after they lose their baby teeth, their adult teeth will be for life. The habits they get into now will follow them for years to come.
Get your gear ready
Assemble all of your tooth brushing gear. Be sure to get a kids toothbrush with soft bristles that is specifically made to fit smaller mouths.
If your child has trouble holding small instruments, you can get adaptive toothbrushes they can use more easily. It’s best to let your child pick the toothbrush. A cartoon character brush is a great way to help motivate kids to brush regularly. Some parents even buy more than one so they can “mix things up” each night. (“Do you want to use the Spongebob toothbrush tonight or the Olaf ?”)
After you get the toothbrush, help your child pick out his or her own toothpaste. Make sure you get toothpaste with fluoride. (If your child is still an infant, however, you don’t want to use fluoride toothpaste yet.)
Pick up a pack of dental floss and, if you like, colored tablets that help kids see the plaque on their teeth. This can turn it into a game as they scrub off the coloring to get rid of all the plaque before they cause cavities.
Once you get them set up with the gear, explain that they will need to do this for two minutes every morning and two minutes right before bedtime. Join them and brush your teeth at the same time to make it a family event and to show them you value your teeth as well.
Put a pea size dab of toothpaste on the brush and have them open wide. Kids should start at the back of their mouths and work their way to the front so they don’t forget to hit any spots.
Have your child move the brush around in small circles, kind of like the wheels on a train as they chug along. They should brush the top, front, and backsides of each tooth thoroughly and then gently brush around their gums to keep them healthy.
Be sure to tell your child to spit the toothpaste out when he or she is done brushing. If they swallow the toothpaste, they could get a stomachache.
What about flossing?
Parents will probably have to help with flossing for a while as many younger children lack the fine motor skills to floss properly. Start flossing twice a week as soon as your child has two or more teeth touching each other.
First, break off a piece of floss and hold it tightly between your thumb and fingers. The floss should be about eighteen inches long. Curve the floss into a “C” shape against the side of the tooth and then pull it tight.
Then, begin rubbing it back and forth as you pull the floss away from the gum line. You should never go all the way down to the gum line so that you cut the gums. Do this in between each tooth and you will be on the way to good dental health for your child.
Dr. Potts is a gentle, caring dentist who uses the most advanced materials and procedures available. He practices comfortable, health-centered dentistry, with a strong emphasis on getting to know each patient. In addition to his technical proficiency, Dr. Potts is a careful listener. He makes sure to understand what you want and will explain beforehand what treatment is best for your individual needs, along with all options available to you. Check out our Twitter, Facebook page, and website.