Teaching Kids to Brush Their Teeth

teaching kids to brushSome experts are divided on what age your child can begin to brush on his or her own. Some suggest that you brush for your child until he or she turns six. Others suggest that at age three your child can begin to brush under your guidance and that at age four your child should be able to brush daily and nightly on their own. Here are a few guidelines for teaching kids to brush their teeth.

Birth to Age One:

* Dentists recommend that parents begin gently washing a baby’s gums with gauze or a washcloth daily to prevent the spread of bacteria.

* When that first pearly white that pokes through, a special baby toothbrush will polish that beautiful tooth.

* Very young children may not be able to spit out the toothpaste. If you’re concerned that your child isn’t able to do this, just use a soft baby toothbrush and gently brush with water.

* Apply a dollop of paste to a soft baby toothbrush, give it a good brush, and help your child to rinse and spit. Usually two-year-olds are able to do this.

* Once your child’s teeth begin touching, you can begin to gently floss between their teeth. Strive for every night, but at minimum, floss twice per week.

Ages Two to Six:

* Help your child angle the toothbrush to get all of their teeth and gums.

* Guide your child’s hand to move the brush back and forth. Be sure they get the front, back and top of their teeth.

* Experts suggest that children brush their teeth for two minutes, twice a day. Coincidentally, the old wives’ tale that a round of “Old McDonald” or the Alphabet song is a good way to measure that the child has completed two minutes’ worth of brushing is a good way to prevent your child from a quick dab-and-dash job. However, it doesn’t usually hit the two-minute mark until you’ve brushed your way through cows, chicks, goats, pigs, horses, dogs, cats, roosters, farmers…

More Tips:

* Your child’s toothbrush should be age appropriate. A baby toothbrush for those first teeth, a toddler toothbrush for your toddler and so on. The bristles should be soft and the size and shape should allow your child to reach each area of the mouth.

* Replace the toothbrush every 3-4 months or after your child has been ill.

* Fluoride is important, but baby toothpaste does not contain fluoride because it can be dangerous if they swallow it. Wait until your dentist says it’s ok to start using fluoride toothpaste, and then be sure to keep it and other items containing fluoride, such as mouthwash, away from your child.

* Concerned about whether your child is reaching every area? Disclosing tablets, found at most drugstores, can show you any plaque that remains after brushing.

Teaching kids to brush their teeth is an important way to lay the foundation for a strong, healthy dental experience that will impact your child’s health for yours to come. With a few simple tips, your child will be on his or her way to a healthy mouth.