Does your child’s brushing more resemble a lumberjack sawing trees in half or a gentle massage? If it’s the former, they may be in for a lifetime of sensitive teeth, bonding treatments, and receding gums.
But not to worry! Now is the perfect time to help them learn to make brushing the right way a habit.
How to Brush?
Teach your littles to brush gently, in short back-and-forth strokes, as well as circular motions, aiming the head of the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle toward the base of the gums. Hit all surfaces of each tooth, not just the ones you can see when you smile in the mirror.
Also, use toothpaste that contains fluoride and is approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). For littles ones younger than three, use just enough to look like a grain of rice; for those older than three, use a pea-sized amount.
And until your child is at least six years old, make sure part of their routine is you taking over the toothbrush to finish the job.
When to Brush?
Twice a day! Morning and evening. In the morning, go with whatever time works for your family. That can be upon waking or after breakfast, or before lunch...just do it! At night, brush right before going to bed so you brush away the day's ickies.
For How Long?
Most dentists (as well as the ADA) agree that brushing should take about two minutes to make sure you’re brushing adequately enough. A 15-second quick burst is not going to cut it, sadly.
Any Other Tips?
- Make it a family affair. Brush together, make funny faces in the mirror, or have a dance party while brushing
- Associate a song with brushing to help them brush long enough. Just like singing “Happy Birthday” twice is sufficient for hand-washing, figure out what song your child likes (that lasts two minutes) and have them hum it while brushing
- Make it fun with a special app!
- Choose the right toothbrush
- Practice on a toy
- Drop unnecessary dental habits
We know tooth brushing can be a very difficult chore for some kiddos. Most adults have a hard time brushing adequately as well! But do your best to instill healthy habits now for a lifetime of good dental health. You got this!