It’s an age-old tradition and a milestone in your career as a parent: teaching your children to brush their teeth! Teaching children to brush their teeth may be a daunting task for many parents to take on. After all, kids aren’t born with the motor functions of an adult or with the skills to wield a toothbrush to any given degree. But don’t worry, your parents succeeded and so can you!
When you first start brushing the teeth of small children it may be easy to take your own brushing knowledge for granted. Trust us, it’s a bit harder to teach kiddos than you may think. Take your teaching slowly, and check out our handy guide to brushing teeth for kids.
When Should You Begin Brushing Your Child’s Teeth?
Technically, you can start brushing your child’s mouth even before baby teeth develop at around six months, as you should be brushing your baby’s gums after each feeding. Once their first tooth or two teeth develop, the two bottom front baby teeth in most cases, you can begin to brush your infant’s teeth and gums.
Keep your baby’s teeth healthy by using only water and a damp washcloth, gauze pad, or finger brush to gently wipe their gums and teeth. Be sure to brush your baby’s teeth as soon as they erupt, as baby teeth can decay due to bacteria. Flossing should be started as soon as your child has two teeth that touch, around the age of 2 to 3.
Up until your kids reach the age of 6, you should brush your children’s teeth for them. The Center For Disease Control recommends that children under the age of 3 use a rice grain-sized amount of toothpaste, while children aged 3 to 6 use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
Brush their gum line and teeth as soon as they wake up in the morning and before they go to bed at night with fluoride toothpaste recommended by your dentist. Doing this at least twice a day will prevent bacteria growth and cavities.
Once your child is 6 years old you can teach them to start brushing their own teeth! This milestone in your child’s life comes with its fair share of hurdles and adult supervision, so it’s helpful to break the seemingly complicated process down into manageable steps.
Choosing Their First Toothbrush
Since you’ve been brushing their teeth for years now your child will have already had their own toothbrush, but they should be able to choose one for themselves once you begin to teach them how to brush their teeth. Let your young child pick out their favorite soft-bristled toothbrush to help encourage their brushing habits.
Choosing the Correct Toothpaste
You should be brushing your child’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste made for children, and this should not change when they are taught to brush their teeth. Let your child choose a flavor of toothpaste that they personally enjoy to make brushing time enjoyable.
Be sure to teach your child not to use too much toothpaste by showing them what a pea-sized amount looks like. You will also need to remind your child that no matter how good the toothpaste tastes, they must rinse it out of their mouth and not swallow it.
How to Brush Your Child’s Teeth
In order to teach proper brushing techniques, you must first know how to brush your children’s teeth. By understanding how to brush properly, you can then teach properly as well. Follow these steps, and teach them to your child as you go.
- Holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle, squeeze a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the brush.
- Brushing only a small group at a time, gently brush teeth in small circular motions.
- Use the circular motion of the soft bristles to clean the inside, outside, and chewing surfaces of the teeth.
- Scrub the tongue in order to remove bacteria.
- Have your child rinse their mouth with water and spit into a sink.
This process should take around two minutes.
Teaching Teeth Cleaning Habits
Your child should be used to the daily routine by the time they begin learning, but actually having them start brushing their teeth may be easier said than done. Children typically won’t want to brush twice a day, every single day, so it’s up to you to find a way to make brushing fun.
Make it a Game
Make brushing teeth fun by turning it into a game! Have your child play ‘tooth doctor,’ where the parents are the patients and the child is the dentist. Let your child brush your teeth using the tips they’ve been taught. Doing this will familiarize your child with brushing teeth, making it easier to brush their own teeth!
Small rewards like stickers, toys, or game time with parents will motivate many children. If your child consistently does a good job with brushing their teeth, reward them with something they’ll love.
As they start to lose their baby teeth, you can also begin to leave helpful reminders and gifts from the tooth fairy. Acting as the tooth fairy, let your kids know that there’s no payment for teeth that have not been properly brushed or flossed.
Visit the Dentist
You can prevent tooth decay and gum disease by making regular visits every six months after your child’s first birthday, but visiting a dental hygienist as a child can be a scary thing, so we suggest combining these professional cleanings with family fun time to ease your child’s anxiety. After the appointment, bring your child to a local park or museum or do something they’ve been wanting to do. Getting into this habit will have your child looking forward to their next dental visit.
At Clock Tower Dental we strive to provide comfort and top-notch care for your kiddos! If you’re getting ready to start teaching your children how to brush their teeth, come visit us for in-person tips, tricks, and help. Contact Clock Tower Family Dental today for all of your family’s dental needs
Make it an Event
Your child will be cleaning their teeth twice a day for the rest of their life, so it’s important to instill this healthy habit early. Follow these tips to make every morning and night an enjoyable event to look forward to:
- Brush your teeth alongside your child, as kids love to mimic their parents.
- Find a song to sing to your child, or make up your own lyrics.
- Have your child try and brush longer than a two-minute timer. If they can ‘beat’ the timer, then let them have a small reward.