This is the time of year when all are focused on the holiday season. Thanksgiving truly is the start of the holiday season, so we’re now well on our way to all the fun and food and family time associated with the winter holidays. And with all the great food, and the occasional candy cane, we thought that this would be a great time to talk a little bit about helping your children develop proper tooth brushing habits.
By the time you reach adulthood, tooth brushing is an activity that is so practiced, that you can practically do it in your sleep. (And, it’s a sure bet that each of us has had a few sleepy mornings where we’ve nearly done just that!) But, for kids, tooth brushing is a strange habit. If you think about it, brushing your teeth is one of the first personal care habits your learn as a child. But, at the same time, it’s something that doesn’t come easy. Many kids don’t have a complex understanding of how tooth brushing is essential for clean, healthy teeth and gums, and they haven’t practiced it enough to master the techniques needed to get around all of the teeth and gums for a truly effective cleaning. So, as they say, practice makes perfect.
It’s the parent’s job to start those healthy oral care habits at an early age and make sure that they’re a regular part of every day. Since small children don’t typically have the manual dexterity, or fine motor skills, needed to brush effectively, they need a lot of help from their parents. So, up to the age of 5 or 6, you may have to help them brush and floss their teeth. This isn’t a big job, one that will only take a few minutes a couple times a day (especially after any sweet treats or just before bedtime). Fortunately, children learn many things, including language and how to feed themselves, through imitation. This is where family tooth brushing becomes incredibly valuable.
If you want to create a tooth brushing habit that will last a lifetime for your child, show them how you take good care of your own teeth. Many parents will brush their teeth at the end of the day with their child right alongside them. And although the child’s attempts to imitate their parent will be imperfect in a lot of ways, the act is still a great way to reinforce those healthy habits. After they’ve tried tooth brushing a few times on their own, take the tooth brush and teach them a simple horizontal brushing movement. Ideally, you want them to learn to brush up and down, with the tooth brush at a 45° angle, but this is a bit tricky for little hands and fingers. Be patient. It will come in time.
Don’t forget! When teaching your child to brush properly, use a pea-sized dab of an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste on a soft-bristled brush. After all, the right brushing equipment is as important as the right technique.
If you’re searching for a pediatric dentist in Gardner, or a Shawnee pediatric dentist, we encourage you to contact the office of Dr. Cobb and talk to one of our friendly staff members about your needs. You have questions? We have answers!
This article is brought to you by Dr. Cobb The Kid’s Dentist, an Olathe, Kansas provider of comprehensive, high-quality pediatric dental care. If you wish to make an appointment for a dental cleaning or evaluation, feel free to contact the office of Dr. David J. Cobb.