Teaching your child how to clean their teeth properly can help to set good oral hygiene habits for a lifetime. Our Delta children's dentists share some tips for parents on teaching your child to brush properly at each stage in their development.
How do I teach my child to brush their teeth?
Honestly, it's going to take some time and some patience to teach your young child to brush their teeth effectively. Nonetheless, taking the time to teach your child how to clean their teeth properly while they are young, is a gift that will help to keep their mouth healthy throughout their lifetime.
While your child is still learning how to clean their teeth thoroughly, parents should be sure to spend some time brushing their child's teeth, once each learning session is over.
Brushing Technique & Tips
The Right Toothbrush
Allow your child to help choose their toothbrush. Take advantage of colours and characters that your child loves, to help make oral hygiene less of a twice daily chore and more of a twice daily fun-time.
Help them to choose a toothbrush that fits comfortably in their tiny hand, with soft rounded bristles and a small brush head. Providing a young child with a toothbrush that is too large will make brushing effectively more difficult and prevent them from reaching all of the tight spaces at the back of their mouth.
Children can often be hard on toothbrushes. Our Delta children's dentists recommend buying a new toothbrush for your child every 3 or 4 months. If your child's toothbrush has bent or worn down bristles replace the brush as soon as possible. Damaged bristles could harm your child's delicate gums.
Toothpaste - Fluoride or No Fluoride?
3 Years and Under:Under the age of 3 parents should brush their children's teeth. Unless your child's dentist has advised you otherwise, toothpaste is not required at this age.
3 - 6 Years:At this age, parents should still assist children in brushing their teeth, and begin teaching their children on how to brush properly using the guidelines below. Our Delta children's dentists recommend using a pea size portion of child specific fluoridated toothpaste when brushing.
6 and Older:Around this age children have developed adequate manual dexterity to begin brushing their own teeth, with parental guidance. Using a fluoridated toothpaste in a flavour your child enjoys will help to make the task more enjoyable.
- Have your child begin by holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to their teeth. Bristles should point to where the teeth and gums meet.
- Encourage your child to be gentle, and not to scrub too hard. Teach them to brush in gentle circles around each tooth.
- Having your child imagine their mouth in 4 quarters can be helpful. Teach your child work on one quarter of their mouth at a time, spending 30 seconds brushing the fronts, backs and tops of all the teeth in that quarter of their mouth before moving on to the next quadrant.
- Have your child continue brushing for a full two minutes, (30 seconds for each quarter of their mouth). Many parents find that playing a fun song, or using a timer is helpful and can make brushing more fun.
Flossing Younger Smiles
Young children will need your help to floss their teeth...here's how you can get the job done:
Break off a piece of floss about as long as your child's arm. Wrap the floss around the middle fingers on each of your hands, leaving about 2 inches between the hands. Then use your index fingers to guide the floss between your child's teeth.
Slide the floss gently between the teeth and wrap it into a "C" shape, and clean where the tooth and gums meet.
Use the floss like a windshield wiper and wipe the tooth from bottom to top 2 or 3 times, until it's sparkling clean. Floss both sides of each tooth, and be sure not to forget the backs of the last molars.
As you move from tooth to tooth, move to a new part of the floss.
Throw dental floss in the garbage after use, never flush dental floss down the toilet.
Encouraging Older Kids to Floss
Proper flossing requires fairly advanced manual dexterity. To help make flossing easier for your child, there are a number of flossing tools available specifically designed for kids. Child friendly flossers are available in a variety of child friendly flavours, animal shapes, and a rainbow of cheerful colours.