As a parent, you understand the basic need for your child to have healthy teeth and gums. But you realize saying, “go brush your teeth!” before bedtime won’t be enough. What would my kids dentist recommend to help establish a daily routine of oral hygiene? Is it really one of the most important habits to instill?
According to The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, tooth decay among young children, or early childhood caries (ECC), is now the most common chronic early childhood disease in the United States. The American Dental Association says it poses a significant public health problem.
So, how should you care for baby teeth? When should you start an oral hygiene routine?
Here are 6 proven ways to encourage your child to brush his teeth by a professional pediatric dentist:
1. Start a dental hygiene routine early
Even though your child will lose all his baby teeth, it doesn’t mean they aren’t important! These first teeth help your young one speak clearly and hold the space for the permanent teeth growing underneath.
Tooth decay can occur in even baby teeth, with detrimental results such as:
- Damage to permanent teeth
- Vulnerability to gum disease later in life
- Poor speech articulation
- Difficulty in chewing mostly due to pain
- Teasing by others resulting in low self-esteem
Even before teeth appear, gently wipe gums after feedings and before bed with a clean, warm cloth. As soon as teeth emerge, you can brush baby teeth with a soft infant toothbrush twice a day with a “smear” of fluoridated toothpaste (source).
2. Set a good example
Kids learn by example. And they will imitate you whether you want them to or not. So teach your little one how to brush his teeth by watching you. Make it a part of your daily routine to do it together!
Here are some tips from your kids dentist to make sure you both do it properly:
- Start by holding the brush at a 45-degree angle
- Gently brush with short strokes side to side cleaning the outside, inside and chewing surfaces
- Brush your tongue too!
Let’s face it, your child is not going to do a very good job at first. So, you may want to start by brushing his teeth for him before bedtime and letting him do it himself in the mornings.
3. Get him involved
On your next shopping trip, let your child pick out his own toothbrush and toothpaste. Don’t worry, fluoride is harmless for children in small amounts. Make sure to use only a pea-sized amount for your 3-6-year-old.
Make dental hygiene just as fun as bath time! You don’t remember the washing in the bathtub as much as the special time you had playing with your favorite toys, right? The best toothbrush (replaced every few months) will go a long way to keeping him entertained! Try an electric toothbrush for even more efficient cleaning.
4. Use a schedule from your kids dentist
Consistency is key. Help establish a good pattern by downloading our free printable brushing chart. Give your kids a sticker for every day they brush their teeth. Soon your child will remind YOU when it’s time to brush!
5. Generously give commendation
Praise your precious son or daughter for doing a good job and maintaining their schedule. Constantly reinforce that strong, healthy teeth are important for beautiful smiles and powerful chompers!
Resist the tendency to use fear to motivate. You don’t want your child to be afraid of the dentist or the pain associated with cavities or to worry about his teeth falling out if he doesn’t brush them.
Encourage your child to bring his completed brushing chart to his next dentist visit. Your extended dental family here at Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists will shower him with positive comments and may even have a special surprise waiting for him.
6. Entertain and amuse
Just like listening to music in the gym makes the time fly, find some fun videos for your kiddo to watch while he works. Brushing should last at least two minutes, so find some perfectly timed pieces that he needs to finish watching. Try this one out:
Remember, you may need to keep him from getting distracted! You know your child best… perhaps a countdown timer would work better for your little guy.
Fight Childhood Tooth Decay
Being a parent today takes hard work and dedication. You’ll only get once chance to reinforce good habits into that precious, evolving mind. Make sure good oral hygiene habits are included. It will contribute to the overall health and emotional well-being of your child.
Regular visits to specialized kids dentist play an important role in teaching cavity prevention and taking important preventative measures. Learn more about our expert San Diego pediatric dentists or call us at 858-676-5000 to book an appointment today.