Most of us don’t think too much about brushing – it’s just something that we do automatically. When it comes time to teach our kids how to brush though, it’s worth taking a refresher course by sitting in on his or her dental visit while we show them, step-by-step, what the proper procedure is.
The first thing to do is to ensure that your child has the proper toothbrush – one with soft, rounded bristles. Whether they prefer a manual toothbrush or electric toothbrush, the selection of toothbrushes these days can be overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to ask us for suggestions on the one that would be best for your child. In fact, the choice of a toothbrush, especially a toothbrush with a bright pattern or picture of a popular cartoon character, can encourage the child to brush just for the novelty of the toothbrush design.
When you’re comfortable with your child’s choice of toothbrush, you’ll want to review these simple brushing guidelines:
- Start cleaning teeth early: “Early” means cleaning the very first baby teeth with a clean, damp cloth every day. When more teeth come in, switch to a small, soft toothbrush; you won’t need toothpaste at first, especially if the child can’t yet spit it out.
- Don’t overdo the toothpaste: After about age 2, your child can start using a small amount of training fluoride free toothpaste. A pea-sized amount of toothpaste is sufficient. While fluoride in toothpaste is important for fighting cavities, too much exposure at too young an age can cause white spots in a child’s permanent teeth. Once a child can spit out the toothpaste, then switch to a child’s toothpaste with fluoride in it. Child toothpaste has a lower amount of fluoride, as children will still swallow a little of it and, as we said before, too much fluoride will cause white spots on the adult teeth.
- Supervise brushing. Brush your child’s teeth twice a day until your child can confidently and properly do it alone, generally children can properly brush all their teeth by 3rd grade. Before 3rd grade- parents should do a final sweep 1 or 2x a day depending on the child. It’s great to let the child take turns with you brushing. They’ll enjoy their independence and take pride in doing a task themselves! Sticker charts help them remember (and parents too!).
Regular, thorough brushing is a simple, yet effective way to remove the bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease. Take care of your child’s teeth, and they’ll reward you with a lifetime of healthy smiles!