Brushing Without Rushing: Tips for Proper Teeth Cleaning
Make it your New Year’s resolution to help your kids brush and floss their teeth regularly.
Twice-daily brushing — in the morning and at night before bed — is a routine kids should start early and follow throughout life. At around age 2 or 3, your child can begin to learn how to brush and floss. But getting him to do it (and do it right) isn’t always easy. For some kids, tooth brushing time is a time to come out fighting. Here are some ways to make tooth care fun:
- Give kids the controls. Buy an assortment of colored toothbrushes or stock your child’s favorite “character” brushes, and let your child choose the one she likes. You can even allow her to have two or three that she rotates during the week if it helps. Make sure toothbrushes are the appropriate size for your child’s mouth and have soft bristles. Let her go to the store with you and pick the toothpaste she likes.
- Do a demo. Let your child eat something that will coat the teeth — such as a chocolate cookie — and then let him brush the food off. Compliment him for a job well done.
- Require disclosure. Disclosing tablets, which you can find in drugstores and dental offices, help check out how well plaque is being removed. Have your child use a tablet after brushing by chewing it and swishing around the liquid it creates for about 30-60 seconds, then spitting it out (please follow the product instructions for the safest experience). Check his mouth for red stains, which are spots where plaque remains. Have your child brush away the spots.
- Be age appropriate. Experts suggest that young children use a back-and-forth movement to brush. As they grow older, they can hold the brush at a 45-degree angle to the teeth and gums, gently brushing a few teeth at a time in a circular motion, being sure to brush the inside and outside surfaces, the top of each tooth and along the gum line.
- Take your timer. Use a two- or three-minute timer, the appropriate length of time to brush. Or play a favorite song that lasts about that long, and have your child brush until the music stops.
- Figure out flossing. You should floss your young child’s teeth until she can do it for herself. Kids usually aren’t dexterous enough to floss until they’re 8 to 10 years old. Your dentist or hygienist can provide a demonstration.
Reviewed by: Patrick S. Pasquariello Jr., MD
Date: December 2012