- Get an Early Start
Establish a regular tooth care regimen even before your child's first tooth appears! You can begin by wiping your baby's gums and erupting teeth with a wet cloth or gauze after meals. This will help remove food particles and bacteria from the erupting teeth and gums.
- Begin Brushing
You should begin brushing your child's teeth between 12 to 18 months, Use a soft child-sized tooth brush and water to start, being sure to get into the back of the mouth where food can lodge in molars.
- Introducing Toothpaste
After age 3, you can add a pea-sized bit of fluoride-enriched toothpaste to your routine. It's important to show your child how to spit out toothpaste as well, rather than allowing them to swallow. Giving your child a small sip of water between brushing and showing her how to swish water in her mouth will encourage her to spit out the toothpaste.
- Quality Over Quantity
Ideally you want to spend about three minutes brushing, which may not be easy with younger preschoolers. Quality over quantity is important to keep in mind, and you should aim to brush all the teeth, even those in the back of the mouth.
- Let Them Do the Work
Sometime after age 4, your child can begin brushing her own teeth with supervision. Watch closely as she brushes and encourage her to thoroughly brush those tough-to-reach back teeth. Dentists suggest that parents supervise their child's brushing technique up until the age of 8.
MAINTAIN A ROUTINE
- Brush, Brush, Brush
Brushing three times a day is best, but your child should at least brush in the morning and at bedtime. Brushing right before bed is especially important because at night there is no saliva or jaw movements to help sweep away food particles.
- Check When She's Done
Dentists advise that parents inspect their children's teeth after bedtime brushing to ensure they have removed all particles. If necessary, parents may need to follow up brush those areas not thoroughly cleaned.
- Teach Proper Technique
When your child brushes, make sure that she uses the technique for brushing, being certain to use up and down, and circular strokes that focus on the tooth and gum line, as well as getting into hard to reach back teeth. Your child should spend at least three minutes brushing. We suggest using an egg timer to help establish the proper amount of brushing time. To help make her a more thorough brusher, point out any spots you think she missed.
BRING ON THE FLOSS
Flossing is an important part of your child's dental hygiene routine, too. We recommend that parents begin flossing their child's teeth as soon the first teeth touch each other, which could be as early as age 1 or 2. By age 6 or 7, kids can begin flossing on their own, but just be certain that they are using the proper technique. You can ask a Southfield dentist during a regular check up to show older children the proper way to floss their teeth.
MAKE IT FUN, NOT A CHORE
Make her daily brushing routine fun and rewarding with these simple tips:
- Choose toothpaste and dental rinses in flavors designed to be more appealing to kids.
- Keep a variety of toothbrushes on hand so that your child can choose each day which one she wants to use. Or have a different toothbrush for each time throughout the day she has to brush. Other clever tips include investing in an inexpensive electric children's toothbrush or animal-shaped floss holders.