Since most adults don’t brush their teeth correctly or for a long enough period of time, we know how important it is to get kids started on the right path! This post contains simple tips and tricks for proper teeth brushing in those important pediatric years. With some fun, facts, and patience, your kids can enjoy a healthy, beautiful smile for the rest of their lives.
If you have a specific question about how to help kids brush their teeth, feel free to call our office. We’re happy to help!
Brushing Baby Teeth
They may not be around forever, but baby teeth need to be protected. Brushing teeth at any age helps prevent the buildup of dangerous bacteria that can cause a variety of health problems inside and outside of your mouth. This is especially important for babies who are still developing a healthy immune system and have extra sensitivity as their teeth are coming in.
Unless your doctor or dentist says otherwise, you do not need to brush your baby’s gums. Their first tooth will arrive sometime around their fourth month and this is when you need to begin brushing. Now you are helping to prevent cavities, plaque, and gingivitis. Clean all sides of whatever teeth they have. Ensure that any remnants of baby formula or food have been removed from the teeth and gums.
Make sure you are using a baby toothbrush and water. No fluoride toothpaste. Twice a day.
Teaching Kids How to Brush their Teeth
When the baby years are over, the real education begins. This is your chance to get them started on a path to healthy, beautiful teeth for the rest of their lives. We know it can be stressful, but it is very important. They will eventually be responsible for knowing how to brush teeth twice a day.
How Much Toothpaste – Their mouths are smaller than yours, so they don’t require the same amount of toothpaste. Until your child is about three years old, the amount of toothpaste should only equal a grain of rice. From three to six years old, that will increase to the size of a pea. This is not only enough to clean their teeth, but prevents them from ingesting too much fluoride. Beyond six years, the more common fingernail (or half the length of the toothbrush bristles) amount is fine. Check if toothpaste has fluoride, it should be kids toothpaste with fluoride.
Motion – This is critical! You will want to teach them to use a circular motion. This is gentler on your teeth and can help reduce the risk of damage to your gums. Do not brush in an “up and down” motion. As you do a circular brushing, they only need to clean two or three teeth at a time. This ensures that each tooth and tooth surface gets adequate attention.
Time – Your child may want to do anything other than brush their teeth, but they need to learn that two minutes is worth it. With the right amount of toothpaste and the right circular motions, their entire mouth will be healthy in two minutes. If they learn the behavior now, it will stay with them through adulthood.
The Right Toothbrush – Brushing a child’s teeth should never hurt. In most cases, a toothbrush with “soft” bristles is fine. Under normal use, a toothbrush generally needs to be replaced every 2-3 months. If the bristles become deformed or start to come out, it is time to get a new toothbrush.
What Else Should They Brush – The goal of brushing your teeth is to remove the bacteria and other harmful elements in the mouth. But those don’t just stick to teeth. You want to make sure you teach your child to brush their gums and tongue. Be gentle on those non-teeth surfaces. They are more gentle than a tooth!
Make Brushing Their Teeth Fun
Most people don’t enjoy brushing their teeth, but it is important. For kids, try to make it fun as you teeth them. Create a game around the activity that includes all the important elements: toothpaste amount, the motion of the brush, covering all surfaces, and a minimum of two minutes. Just make sure to never make it a “race”. Two minutes matters. You can ask them to count each to you after they brush it. Or brush your teeth alongside them as they do it. You are a great role model. Separate their mouth into regions such as top, bottom, front, back, left and right. Teach them to spend 20 seconds in each area so each tooth is brushed.
They won’t learn the habit overnight but with a few weeks of patience, you will help your child stay healthy and look great.
As soon as the first baby tooth arrives, they are ready for their first appointment, so are we! We love kids and look forward to helping your family maintain awesome oral health.