Teaching Your Child the Importance of Dental Care Early On

One of the best things you can do for your child is to teach proper oral hygiene. This will help prevent tooth decay and tooth loss, and even primary (or baby) teeth are important for chewing, speech and self-esteem. Until at least 24 months, you should clean your child’s teeth yourself, and skip the toothpaste until he or she can avoid swallowing it.

When your child is ready to begin learning to brush, probably around age two to three, make sure to choose a small, child-sized toothbrush with soft bristles. Use only a very small amount of toothpaste, and watch to be sure they spit and rinse after brushing.

Explain each step of the brushing process to your child as you do it. Brush the inside surfaces of all the teeth, using a circular motion and making sure to angle the toothbrush toward the gumline. Next, brush the outside surfaces of the teeth with the same short, circular motions. Finally, brush the chewing surfaces, and then the tongue.

Brushing together as a family is another way to help your child develop good brushing habits. Brush for two to three minutes each time, setting a timer if necessary. This gives your child a good idea of what the right amount of time to spend brushing feels like. Brushing along to a favorite song can act as a timer and also make brushing lots of fun.

Getting children involved in the decision-making processes can encourage them to brush and make dental hygiene more enjoyable for them. For instance, let children pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste, or let them choose which song to brush to on a given night. If your child hates the taste of toothpaste, experiment with different flavors – there are many on the market.

Finally, be sure to schedule regular dental checkups to be sure your child is learning proper oral hygiene habits. Babies should have their first dental checkup by their first birthday and continue having regular cleanings according to your dentist’s recommendations – usually every six months.

When your child first begins brushing on his or her own, you should either brush after your child brushes or you brush first and then ask them to repeat what you did. Sitting your child on your lap facing away from you and standing behind your child in front of a mirror are good options. Teaching your child the importance of dental care early on will lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy teeth and a great smile.