Brushing a toddler’s teeth is no easy task. Teaching them to do it themselves is even more difficult. Good brushing habits start at an early age, so teaching your child to brush their teeth is an important role for you as a parent. You are setting your child up for a lifetime of oral health care success and your influence can make a huge difference.
Why Is It Important to Brush Baby Teeth?
Starting a good oral hygiene routine at a young age will stick with your child well into adulthood. Even though your toddler is going to lose all their baby teeth at some point, keeping them clean now puts them on the path to success when they are taking care of adult teeth.
Establishing good oral hygiene at a young age can also help ensure that adult teeth have healthy gums and enough space to erupt and grow in your child’s mouth. This can lead to proper teeth alignment for your child when they are older.
Good dental hygiene also prevents cavities. Even though all those baby teeth are going to fall out, cavities still need to be taken care of swiftly. They are painful and expensive, and they can be traumatic for your child, making the dentist a scary place to visit. Avoiding this experience will help make the dentist a positive place.
When Will My Child Be Ready to Brush Their Own Teeth?
Most kids need help brushing their teeth until they are at least five or six years old. They don’t have the manual dexterity needed to properly brush their teeth until that age. There is no magical age that is appropriate for parents to turn over the teeth brushing responsibility to their child. It is more about hand-eye coordination and the child’s ability to properly care for their own teeth.
Some children may not be ready to brush their own teeth until they are closer to nine. A good rule of thumb for parents? If your child can tie their own shoes, they have the skills needed to brush their own teeth.
5 Tips to Teach Your Toddler to Brush Their Teeth
Helping a toddler with brushing their teeth can be a struggle. The trick is to start a routine with them and stick with it. Brushing your teeth feels like a chore to most kids and some adults. Teaching them the importance of dental care, as well as finding fun ways to brush teeth, can make this easier for you and your child.
Start At an Early Age
Introduce your child to a toothbrush early in life. By starting early, you are helping your child develop a routine they are comfortable with and will be able to continue on their own as they get older.
Teach kids from a young age about oral health care and make sure to include conversations about cavities, bad breath, and tooth decay. Understanding the consequences of not brushing is important in helping kids maintain their oral health long-term.
Set a Good Example (Brush with Them)
Kids look to their parents as an example of what to do, and teeth brushing is no exception. When you are ready to teach teeth brushing to your preschooler, grab your toothbrush and join in. This is a great time to model the proper way to use a toothbrush. Set a timer for two minutes and brush along with your toddler. Try to make a game out of it. This will help your child remember the lessons and make them want to brush their teeth.
Let Them Pick Their Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Kids love to make choices. Letting them choose their toothbrush and type of toothpaste allows them to get excited about their new responsibility. They are also more likely to use their toothbrush if it has a favorite character or color. Spinning toothbrushes are great for kids, and some of them even have music or silly sounds to let them know when they have brushed for two minutes.
Toothpaste comes in several different flavors. Find one your child likes and stick with that one. Bubble gum or berry-flavored are popular options for kids. Most dentists also recommend using toothpaste with fluoride to help protect your child’s teeth.
Compliment and Encourage Their Brushing
Praise your child when they are doing a great job brushing their teeth. Remember, as the parent, focus on the good. We all know that it can be a struggle to get a toddler to brush their teeth, and it is often a messy situation. Try to focus on the good parts of the experience with your child. Positive reinforcement is a great way to make sure your child continues the habits you are teaching.
Choose a Good Dentist
A good dentist is an important ally when teaching your child to brush. They can help you support and praise your child for a job well done. The right provider will make the dentist a safe and comfortable place for your child. They can also give you feedback or tips and tricks during your visit. This can make brushing at home a little less stressful, and more enjoyable for both you and your child.
Tips To Teach Your Toddler to Floss Their Teeth
Flossing becomes important for kids when their tooth surfaces get close to each other. Flossing at least once a day is recommended. You will need to help your child floss and keep in mind that their gums are more sensitive than an adult’s.
When flossing with your child, give them a short piece of floss and show them how to twirl each end around a finger. The floss should make a “C” shape around each tooth as you are flossing. Make sure you don’t apply too much pressure.
Repeat for each tooth, using a new section of the floss each time. Just as with brushing, flossing with your child is a great way to show them how it’s done and get them in the habit of doing it each day.
For more fun ways to teach brushing teeth to children, contact Rhoades Dentistry. We would love to meet your child and set them up for a lifetime of good oral hygiene. Give us a call today at 913.782.8900 to make an appointment.