As an adult, you are in the habit of brushing your teeth at least twice a day because that’s what you were taught to do when you were a kid, and because that’s what you saw your parents doing every day. Now that it’s time to pass on the knowledge, here’s what you should include in the conversation to help them keep their teeth healthy for life:
Monkey See, Monkey Do.
Children love to imitate what their parents do! Make oral care a family activity, so kids feel included and understand that this is a daily routine – no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it!
If your child is too young to brush on their own, have them stand in front of a mirror and watch as you brush their teeth for them. Try to stand behind them so they can see their mouths as the toothbrush moves around; point out where and how you’re brushing and talk your way through proper flossing so they can see and hear how to brush and floss. If they’re old enough to brush on their own, brush alongside them in the mornings, and brush and floss next to them in the evening. Soon, this will become a habit, just like it did for you when you were younger!
Teach Them to Brush Properly
The American Dental Association says we need to brush our teeth twice a day for a full two minutes each time, especially after meals. Teach your kids the proper tools and technique and pair brushing time with a catchy song that’s at least two minutes long. Here are 4 steps to brushing correctly:
Step 1: Angle a soft-bristled toothbrush at 45 degrees towards the gums of the upper and lower teeth.
Step 2: Move the toothbrush gently in a back-and-forth motion with short strokes along the teeth and gums, both along the interior and the exterior surface.
Step 3: Place the brush in an upright position to reach behind the top and bottom front teeth.
Step 4: Brush the tongue to remove bacteria on the surface.
Children should start flossing as soon as tooth surfaces are next to each other. Cleaning between your teeth removes plaque, which if left in your mouth, can eventually cause cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. Teaching your kids to floss at least once a day, particularly at night after they’ve had dinner, will help them maintain great oral health. Here’s how to teach flossing correctly:
Step 1: Hold a short length of floss between the thumb and index finger, wrapping it around one finger at each end to gain better control. Be careful not to apply too much pressure.
Step 2: Adjust the floss into a ‘C’ shape curve around each tooth and slide it up and down gently along the side of the tooth and under the gumline.
Step 3: A new section of floss should be used for each tooth to avoid reinsertion of food and plaque.
Avoid Chewing on Ice, etc.
Kids love to chew on things – from pacifiers to teething rings to their thumbs or other fingers – this can push their teeth out of place. It’s recommended to break these habits by the time your child turns 4 to prevent long-term damage. Discourage your kids from chewing and sucking on ice and hard candies, as well, which can break teeth or reduce their stability.
Visit Your Dentist Regularly
Another important part of your child’s oral health habit is coming in to see us. Be sure to bring your child in for regular cleanings and checkups every six months. We’ll be able to examine your child’s teeth and see if their oral health routine is effective. Call us today to schedule appointments for your entire family!