Brushing Teeth – A Kid’s Guide
The most important thing to remember when teaching your child oral hygiene is making teeth brushing fun, not a chore! There are so many options of toothpastes and brushes and letting your child pick out their favorite can help increase the excitement to brush.
Emma’s Children recently interviewed Dr. Lasky, a pediatric dentist (www.laskypediatricdental.com):
When should your child first visit the dentist?
I recommend about two. At that age the child is able to engage and be a part of the appointment. The American Academy Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends a child have their first dental visit by their first birthday. This appointment is really to educate the parents.
Since baby teeth are going to fall out anyways how much energy has to be spent taking care of them?
A lot! Yes, they fall out, but some not until they are 12. If you don’t care for them you can get pain and infection. They are also important in guiding the permanent teeth into the correct position and the development of the jaw.
What is the worst thing a parent can do?
Threaten your child with “If they don’t brush or eat too much candy you will get a cavity & have to get a shot.” Even the best brushers and eaters get decay.
Dr. Lasky’s top 3 tips are:
- Have a routine ~ brush every morning and night no matter how long, just develop this habit
- Avoid sticky foods ~ the longer a food stays in your mouth the higher your risk of cavities. If you’re choosing between sweets, a handful of M&M’s that melt away quickly is better than a lollipop which may take up to 2o minutes to finish.
- Water, water, water! ~ besides hydrating the body, it helps clear foods from your teeth.
First, explain the necessity of oral hygiene to your child. Brushing twice a day helps prevent plaque. Plaque is a bacteria film that sticks to the outside of your teeth. This bacteria loves sugar.
Your child’s smile is so important! Tell them this and have them really explore their mouth and teeth. Ask them why they like their smile and tell them why brushing their teeth will help keep their smile looking its best!
Explain to them that sugars are bad for their teeth. Sugars turn acidic and eat away the enamel on the teeth. This is when cavities happen. Another problem that can arise is gingivitis. This causes our gums to become red, sore, swollen, and sometimes bloody. Show your child what their gums are.
Drinking plenty of water helps keep teeth clean and rinse food remnants. Drinking tap water actually provides fluoride. The CDC estimates water fluoridation reduces tooth decay by 20-40%.
Emma’s Check List For Brushing:
- Start with a pea-size amount of toothpaste. Make sure to rinse/spit. No swallowing! If you use too much your child’s mouth will be overwhelmed with foam and flavor.
- Pick the right toothpaste for your child. Some toothpastes may be too strong for your child, even if you don’t notice it. They can even sting. Use a paste specifically for kids.
Note: Kids under 2 should not use fluoride toothpaste.
Emma’s favorite kid-friendly toothpaste is from Earth’s Best. It’s strawberry and banana flavor (yum!) and safe in case swallowing does occur.
- Make sure they brush all of their teeth, not just the front. Get to the sides and the back teeth. Encourage your child to brush themselves but once they finish, do a quick brush yourself to make sure all their teeth are clean.
- Use a timer or a song to ensure they brush for 2-3 minutes each time.
- Lastly, make brushing fun & rewarding. Try a chart (there are many free, printable charts online) to make it all about them. Praise your child for brushing properly.