Guiding your child toward a healthy dental routine can be challenging, but you should not neglect it. When it comes to your child's hygiene, you are not alone in the struggle.
There can be complications when teaching your child how to brush properly, but we all know it's worth it in the long run. Over 40% of children have cavities before they enter kindergarten, and tooth decay is the leading ailment in young children. However, if you teach them the right habits, the dental routine is something they will follow as they grow.
When should you start brushing their teeth?
To promote long-term oral health and establish good habits, it's essential to start caring for your child's teeth early—even before the first tooth emerges. Cleaning the gums is essential, and you can do this by gently wiping the baby's gums with a soft cloth after each meal.
The first tooth typically appears around 6 or 7 months of age. As soon as they come in, it would help if you started a brushing routine. It's best to brush their teeth twice a day, once in the morning and again in the evening before bedtime.
How do they brush their teeth correctly?
Before you teach your child how to brush, take a moment to ensure you know how to brush your teeth properly. According to the FDI International Dental Federation, a proper brushing technique takes about two minutes, and here are the following steps:
- Tilt your brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums. Remember, the tip is important as it allows you to target areas close to your gumline where plaque accumulates.
- Gently brush in broad strokes while moving back and forth over your teeth.
- To reach the inner surfaces of the front teeth, tilt your toothbrush and brush in vertical strokes.
- Brush the surface of the tongue to remove bacteria and food debris.
The techniques mentioned above suit babies and children, but the approach may vary based on the child's age.
How do you teach your children to brush their teeth?
Teaching your children to brush their teeth and enjoy it is not necessarily impossible. Here are some tips to make the formative years fun for the whole family.
- Have the right equipment
The right equipment can make or break a toothbrushing session. Use a soft toothbrush with small heads to remove food debris, bacteria, and sticky plaque for children. Stiff bristles are often abrasive to the sensitive gums of young children. Replace the toothbrush every three to four months or when it appears frayed or worn. Also, consider replacing a child's toothbrush with a cold or flu; nothing is worse than reintroducing germs into a child's exhausted immune system.
To teach your child how to brush their teeth, you should first let them choose a toothbrush or toothpaste they like. Character brushes are more fun than boring, solid-colored designs, and toothpaste can come in various scents. By giving your child the choice of toothbrush and toothpaste, you allow them to take ownership of the toothbrushing routine and promote a positive relationship with dental hygiene.
- Get into a routine
Establish a toothbrushing routine and stick to it. It can be tempting to skip a session after a long day or when you're on vacation, and your usual schedule is disrupted. Avoid the temptation to interrupt or cut short a toothbrushing session. Your child will start to think that brushing their teeth is optional, which can undermine your educational efforts.
- Get the family involved. The whole family brushes their teeth
Make brushing your teeth a family event. Let all your family members brush their teeth together in the same room. Put on a timer and some music. When brushing teeth becomes a time of togetherness and family fun, children are more willing and interested to participate.
- Make it fun
Who said brushing your teeth has to be boring? Put on your child's favorite song and make up a dance, or brush your teeth to the beat of the music. Read a story out loud using all your best goofy voices. Find short videos to watch while brushing, or let your child interact with a toothbrushing app. The possibilities are limitless. When a routine is fun, your child looks forward to it.
- Lead by example
Brush your teeth in front of your child. Show her that it's something you should do, too. When you brush your teeth, tell each step. Do the same when you brush your child's teeth and let them know what you're doing, why you're doing it, and what comes next. It helps normalize tooth brushing and eliminate any surprises in the routine.
- Create a rewards system
Rewarding good toothbrushing behavior will help motivate your child. You can be creative with your system and adapt it to your child's liking. Is your toddler obsessed with stickers? Make a schedule and let him add a new sticker each day he brushes his teeth. If your child is hungry for stories, let him choose the bedtime story as a reward for brushing. For older children, you can use the sticker method for bigger rewards. All three stickers could mean an afternoon at the park, for example. Some kids want you to tell them you're proud of them, which may be enough to encourage them.
- Make it easy
When your child is old enough to brush their teeth, take turns going to the bathroom with them. Start by brushing the child's teeth, then ask him to repeat what you just did. By gradually increasing the time your child spends brushing his teeth, you get him to brush his teeth alone, without difficulty.
How to Encourage Your Child to Brush Their Teeth?
Brushing teeth is a necessary but not always the most rewarding part of the day. It can also be seen as a chore by your children, which they may try to avoid. Don't give up if you struggle to get your child into the habit of brushing. Make the moment fun so they don't hesitate to pick up the brush next time.
At Versailles Dental Clinic, a trusted dental hospital in Dubai, we can offer you the best guidance and educate your children about good dental routines while making them enjoyable. Schedule your appointment today.
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