Teaching Your Children to Brush their Teeth on Their Own
You know how to brush your teeth, but do you remember the steps to reaching that achievement? Probably not. Odds are, learning how to brush your teeth happened many decades ago. But, now with kids of your own, you have to teach the process to your children. In their early years, you will spend a lot of time creating the habit and doing most of the brushing for your kids. Little by little, however, you can ease them into completing the whole routine on their own. Use this guide to teach your child how to brush their teeth and don’t forget to include those routine visits to the pediatric dentist while they learn!
1. Let your child start the process. When you first begin teaching your child how to brush, let them hold the toothbrush and emulate teeth brushing to best of their abilities. As early as age two or three, your child will have enough dexterity to mimic the motions of teeth brushing. You can help them finish the task by performing a thorough and proper scrubbing.
2. Control the toothpaste. Fluoride in toothpaste can lead to staining on a child’s secondary teeth. It is best to use plain water for children under two years of age and only a pea-sized amount up to age six. You can consult your pediatric dentist for his or her specific recommendations for your child.
3. Reduce consumption of sugary snacks and drinks. Sugary foods and beverages can contribute to tooth decay. And, although the baby teeth aren’t permanent, the surrounding tissue is permanent, making protection of the whole mouth paramount to long-term oral health. Instead of sugary snacks, choose fruits and vegetables for between-meal munching, which will aid dental health. In place of juice or milk, fill your baby’s bottle or sippy cup with water.
4. Practice makes perfect. Some children will learn healthy dental care habits by practicing the technique on their dolls or “playing dentist.” You can encourage this behavior by giving your child a second toothbrush exclusively for his or her toys and engaging in a pretend visit to the pediatric dentist or routine brushing and flossing.
5. Make brushing a twice-a-day habit. Teach your child to brush twice a day—at the very least—once in the morning and once before bed. Making this a routine early can reduce challenges in the future.
6. Brush as a family. When your child observes you and the entire family brushing, it further encourages the behavior and make the experience that much more exciting.