(RxWiki News) Written By Digital Pharmacist Staff
It’s National Children’s Dental Health Month. That means it’s the perfect time to make sure your little ones have the skills they need to maintain healthy teeth for life.
As an adult, brushing your teeth is something you could probably do with your eyes closed. But for kids, this twice-daily task isn’t so simple. Children don’t automatically know how to brush their teeth or how long or how often to do so.
Fortunately, you can help your kids understand exactly how to keep their teeth in mint condition. For information on teaching and motivating children to brush their teeth and common mistakes to avoid, keep reading.
Motivating Children to Brush Their Teeth
Kids should brush their teeth much in the same way as adults — twice per day for two minutes each time, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). But the challenge is convincing kids to spend four minutes of each day brushing. The ADA has a few tips to make tooth-brushing more fun for kids:
- Turn on your child’s favorite song and have a tooth-brushing dance party.
- Allow your child to pick out his or her own toothbrush and toothpaste to make the process more fun.
- Tell a two-minute story while your child brushes his or her teeth.
- Determine what motivates your child. If they love receiving stickers, consider making a reward chart in which they can place a sticker for each day they brudh their teeth. Maybe they enjoy reading. Let them pick their bedtime story after they brush their teeth.
The point is to make sure brushing teeth doesn’t become a boring chore. It needs to be second-nature for your child, and you can make it a lifelong habit by making it fun and easy for them.
Another important part of children’s dental health is to not allow them to skip brushing their teeth, even if school isn’t in session or you’re on vacation. Brushing teeth needs to become an everyday habit — rain or shine, school or no school.
How to Clean Those Pearly Whites
Children’s teeth need to be brushed as soon as they appear, according to the ADA. For children younger than 3, you’ll want to use a child-size toothbrush and a very small amount of toothpaste. After age 3, kids can start using a little more toothpaste — an amount the size of a pea.
You’ll need to brush your child’s teeth for him or her at first, but eventually, your kid will be able to handle the task (typically around the age of 6). Place the brush at a 45-degree angle to the teeth and move it back and forth. Make sure you brush the outer, inner and chewing surfaces of the teeth. To reach the inside surfaces of the teeth, tilt the toothbrush vertically and make up-and-down strokes.
Even after your child has begun brushing his or her own teeth, you’ll still need to supervise to make sure your child is using the right amount of toothpaste, brushing with the right technique and brushing for the correct amount of time.
For more information on keeping your child’s teeth healthy, be sure to check out Children’s Dental Health.
Dental Health Mistakes to Avoid
The bottom line is that brushing for two minutes two times per day is a solid habit to maintain good dental health for your children. However, there are some other dental health practices to keep in mind:
- Replace toothbrushes every three to four months. When the bristles are broken or frayed, they won’t do the best job of cleaning your child’s teeth.
- Don’t brush too hard. All you need is a gentle brush, and brushing too hard can actually damage your child’s gums.
- Have your child wait at least an hour after eating to brush his or her teeth. This is especially true if your child has eaten anything acidic.
- Store toothbrushes upright and in the open air — not in a closed container where bacteria can grow.
If you have questions about your child’s dental health, talk to your family dentist today.