Those adorable baby teeth your child flashes can melt your heart. Unfortunately, more children are getting cavities than ever before – about 40% have at least one by the time they even enter kindergarten. Learning to care for baby teeth sets your child up for a lifetime of good habits that will keep their smile looking healthy and beautiful. Here are some best practices for teaching children how to brush their teeth.
1. An adult should brush the child’s teeth until about age 3. Children younger than 3 don’t have the necessary motor coordination to properly brush. It’s also unlikely that you will succeed in communicating the importance of thoroughly and regularly brushing their teeth. Gently brush your child’s teeth, gums, and tongue with a soft-bristled brush. Use fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a pea on the brush) and show her how to spit out the excess toothpaste and rinse her mouth.
2. Set an example. Let your children see you brushing your teeth and flossing. Modeling good behavior is how your child learns pretty much every good habit! Brush your teeth with your child so you can supervise and make any necessary corrections.
3. Make it fun. Make tooth brushing a happy and positive activity. If your child has a hard time with toothpaste, keep looking for a flavor he likes. There are a lot of options out there.
4. Toothpaste? Learning to brush and making it a habit are so important that it’s not even necessary to use toothpaste all the time. Brushing dry when you are not in the bathroom or using just water are good ways to clean baby teeth.
There are even some toothbrushes that play a little song while brushing, timed to last as long as one should normally spend brushing. What matters most is setting a positive example, with plenty of reinforcement and repetition.
Going to the dentist should always be a positive experience for little ones. Your hygienist and dentist can reinforce the good brushing habits you teach. In Minneapolis/St. Paul, Dr. Steven Hagerman and his staff provide friendly and caring dentistry for the whole family. For cleanings, general dentistry, and cosmetic procedures, call (651) 646-2392 for an appointment today.