As a parent, you are your child’s first teacher, they’ll learn many things from you. Learning how to properly brush their teeth is one of them. Teaching your children how to care for their teeth at a young age can help them avoid dental problems as they grow older.
Tooth decay, also known as cavities, is common in children, and affects three out of five children. Cavities are caused by bacteria, food, acid and saliva. The good news is that cavities are preventable.
Good dental hygiene begins when your child is a baby. Practice these healthy habits to prevent and reduce cavities in infants and children.
Newborn to one year:
- Wipe your baby’s gums with a damp washcloth twice a day. In the morning after their feeding and at night before you put them to bed.
- Once their first tooth appears, brush twice a day with a soft toothbrush and water.
- Schedule your child’s first dental appointment before they turn 1.
When to start using toothpaste:
- For children younger than 3, use a child-size toothbrush and a small amount of toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice.
- When your child is between the ages of 3 and 6, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
To keep your child focused while brushing:
- Set a timer, play their favorite song or video for two minutes.
- Make a reward chart and add a sticker every time they brush their teeth twice a day.
- If your child is younger than 6, supervise them while brushing.
- Make sure they:
- Use the right amount of toothpaste
- Encourage them to spit instead of swallowing
- Follow up on areas they’ve missed
- Use floss to clean between the teeth once a day. Start flossing as soon as two teeth begin to touch.
Proper brushing technique:
- Use the right amount of toothpaste.
- Brush at a 45-degree angle. Parents find it easy to brush their child’s teeth by lying them down or standing behind them with their head tilted back.
- Gently brush all the teeth. Make sure to clean every surface of the tooth. This means brushing the outside, inner and chewing surfaces.
- Don’t forget to brush the tongue! Doing so will remove the bacteria and freshen the mouth.
At the age of 7, your child will begin to brush their own teeth.
With proper care, your child may be able to keep their permanent teeth their whole life. Make sure they visit the dentist twice a year. Schedule your child’s dentist appointment today. Celebrate their healthy smile!