Your child should start brushing teeth independently when they start tying their shoelaces.
However, they should be brushing by the time their baby teeth start appearing.
Even when they have no teeth, parents should clean the gums regularly to avoid cavities.
Though, it is hard to make your child brush at such a young age when they do not comprehend things that well.
That said, it is not impossible and you should help your child to instill this habit into them.
If you are a parent struggling to get your child toothbrushing, then this article is for you.
Learn how you can make toothbrushing a fun part of their life.
Is Brushing Teeth Important in Baby Teeth?
First, let’s clear some misconceptions.
Do you think that baby teeth eventually fall out so why should you bother brushing them?
Well, baby teeth are the foundation for permanent adult teeth.
They hold space for your child’s permanent teeth hence if they are not healthy, nor will be their permanent teeth.
Therefore, you need to protect them by toothbrushing regularly.
When your child’s baby teeth appear, they eat almost anything and regularly drink milk.
This gives the bacteria in your mouth the opportunity to feed on acids and form plaque.
Also, you can pass on your bacteria to your child.
You should separate your utensils from theirs because if you share a cup or spoon then the bacteria in your mouth could go to theirs.
This will cause them dental caries which can become a chronic infection and affect the look of their adult teeth.
It affects their tooth growth site as well as their gums.
Hence, when the adult teeth come out they are crooked or misaligned.
The molars and first adult teeth influence their face shape and the position of the rest of their teeth.
Therefore, you need to make sure that the baby teeth were healthy enough for the eruption of straight adult teeth.
Now that you know that you need to start brushing your child’s baby teeth when they erupt, learn about how to engage them in this activity below.
Brushing Teeth Basics
In order to teach your child how to brush, you need to be a good role model to follow.
If they will see you using the toothbrush a certain way and following good oral health they will follow.
After all, children learn by copying you.
Therefore, demonstrate the proper technique of tooth brushing to them in a fun and engaging way.
Even if this is not the most fun activity for you, act like it is, so that they are equally engaged and invested.
Show them step by step how to brush properly.
- Apply a pea size of fluoride toothpaste on the toothbrush
- Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gum line
- Make circular strokes rather than going side by side
- Begin from the gum line and then make to the inner and outer chewing surfaces
- Hold the toothbrush vertically to brush the inner surface of the teeth
- Carefully brush each tooth in every session
- Also, brush the tongue or use the back of the toothbrush, the tongue scraper to clean it
- Keep brushing for full 2 minutes
- Spit out the toothpaste and after a while rinse it
Explain these to your child step by step so they are not intimidated.
If they do not get it immediately then just focus on a few teeth in one session.
You will first have to brush for them and by holding their hand to guide them.
They do not have fine motor skills this young, so you will have to help them.
Once, they grasp what you are doing, you can monitor their progress while they brush.
Also, remember to speak loudly while you demonstrate brushing so that they can understand properly.
Next, you should try to encourage them to brush on their own. Let’s find out how!
Engaging Kids in a Brushing Teeth Session
Children may despise brushing if you do not make it into a fun session for them.
After all, it is a routine and like adults, children are also not fond of following a routine.
Hence, make them realize that is a big milestone in their life and they should be equally involved in it.
Letting Them Choose Their Toothbrush
Involve your child in the process from the beginning.
Let them find a toothbrush they like.
Kid’s toothbrushes are quite fun in different colors and cartoon characters.
If they like an electric toothbrush that buzzes and does most of the work itself, then get them that.
As long as they have a toothbrush they like, they will get excited over it and will be willing to use it.
Also, it gives them a sense of ownership over it do this can make them more invested in the process.
Use Songs and Poems at Brushing Time
Songs and Poems can make any activity interactive and fun for kids.
Though they can also be educational and motivational if they are about oral hygiene and care.
The catchy tune can get your child to sing along, absorb the message and replicate it in their brushing routine.
Also, this can help time the total number of minutes they brush their teeth.
They will know that singing a particular poem is as long as brushing properly for 2 minutes and they may even make it their hobby to time it this way.
Another way to calculate time is to use an electric toothbrush that plays music and has an in-built timer.
This will help the children get familiar with how long do they need to brush when the timer beeps.
Activities to Encourage Them to Brush
As a parent, you will have to go above and beyond to make sure your child brushes.
Hence, if they feel disconnected from the activity of brushing then you should bring them back by giving rewards, using their favorite toys, or educating them over oral health.
Reward Them for Brushing
Children like rewards and knowing that they will get rewarded encourages them to do the task.
You can set aside stickers, stamps or other rewards like a trip to the park, more screentime, a new toy or an extra bedtime story for children when they complete their task of brushing daily.
This will motivate children to regularly brush and they will feel accomplished when they see a sticker beside the date in the calendar.
However, do not offer candies, chips or biscuits as rewards as this can cause them caries.
Practice Brushing on Toys
After you teach them how to brush, let them practice on their favorite toys.
This will help them to engage in this activity which is fun and they are also taking a learning journey.
It will teach them how to brush teeth properly as they practice on their toy and also how they can maintain oral hygiene emphasizing the importance of oral health in their minds.
You can easily turn this into an opportunity for them to brush immediately afterward.
Now that their favorite toy has brushed too, it’s time for them to clean their teeth too.
It is also important to make your children familiar with the importance of oral health.
And how can you do that? Learn about them below!
Getting Them Familiar With Oral Health
- Read Them Books Or Show Videos
In order to get your children familiar with the concept of oral hygiene, you should refer to some fun books.
You may explain things to them in your way but it is more fun when their favorite cartoon character enacts those moments.
This also becomes easier for them to copy those actions.
By reading them, books and showing them such videos, they can learn about the importance of oral health and why it is vital for them.
This will encourage them to brush more often independently and look forward to brushing time twice a day.
- Let Them Brush Independently
Once your child can hold the toothbrush, let them brush independently while you supervise them.
It is harder for children to learn brushing when they get a little older so as soon as you see that they can hold the toothbrush well, let them try.
You can always follow up by removing any plaque they missed.
Supervise them till they are at least seven years old.
Some children learn by trying and maybe your child is one of them too.
So slowly let go of your hand and let them clean their own teeth.
- Choose A Dentist That Makes Your Child Comfortable
In order to familiarize your child with good oral health, you should also take them to the dentist.
Your child can go to the dentist 6 months after the eruption of their first baby tooth.
This is almost around their first birthday.
Though, you should make sure that your child enjoys being around their dentist.
Having a fun dentist allows them to instill the hygiene practices they teach in their routine.
Hence, the activity of brushing teeth becomes fun for kids and they enjoy doing it twice daily!