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6 Great Ways to Encourage Your Child's
Tooth Brushing

child brush teeth

Likely all parents agree it is hard to get kids to brush and floss their teeth regularly as they should for a healthy smile. In fact, your pediatric dentist understands this, too. Below, airdriefamilydentist.ca provides six tips for encouraging your child to brush their teeth.

1. Establish Healthy Brushing Habits Early

Tooth decay is a bigger health problem than most people realize. It is also the most common chronic early childhood disease. You need to help your child understand the importance of tooth brushing for their overall health. It is especially important to protect their teeth from bacterial build-up that leads to tooth decay.

Many parents believe that baby teeth are somewhat "disposable." Yes, these teeth fall out at an early age. But it is still very important that your child brushes these little teeth to keep cavities from occurring. In fact, decayed baby teeth cause a multitude of bigger problems. Some of these can include:

  • Damage to permanent teeth
  • Potential for gum disease
  • Poor speech enunciation and articulation
  • Other kids' teasing
  • Lower self-esteem

Start promoting healthy tooth brushing habits from your child's earliest awareness. Use an infant-sized soft bristle toothbrush as soon as their first teeth emerge. Use only a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste and brush these teeth twice per day.

2. Set a Positive Example

For your child to develop enthusiasm for tooth brushing, set a positive example through your own habits. Kids will always look up to parents for modelling and imitate you in your behaviours. Let them watch you brush your teeth or brush your teeth together.

As you model this behaviour for your kids, ensure you brush properly. Points provided by experts in pediatric dentistry include:

  • Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle to teeth
  • Use short circular motions
  • Ensure you clean the outside, inside and chewing surfaces of each tooth
  • Brush your tongue, too
child brush teeth

3. Get Your Child Involved in Tooth Brushing

When shopping for toothbrushes, let your child pick out his or her own brush and toothpaste. Choosing these items themselves can encourage children to use them. Older children can choose an electric toothbrush if desired. These types of brushes provide more efficient cleaning. Some electric models have timers to ensure kids brush their teeth for long enough.

4. Set a Schedule and Reward Good Behaviour

A consistent routine is very important for helping kids establish good oral health habits. Create a weekly tooth brushing chart and have your child check off each day after they brush. If they check off all the days for brushing in both mornings and before bed at night, reward your child with a treat at the week's end. Just try to remember that the treat should be one that does not undermine good oral health. Instead of sugary snacks or candies, focus on rewards like small trinkets, a book or stickers.

5. Applaud Their Efforts

Provide your child with generous praise when they brush as they should and maintain a twice-daily schedule for oral hygiene. A little praise can go a long way.

At the same time, do not use fear to motivate your child to brush their teeth. Parents commonly create more fear of the dentist by exaggerating pain related to cavities, lost teeth or fillings. It is better to help your youngster see pediatric dentistry as a partner in their good oral health, instead of seeing the dentist as a punishment for bad oral hygiene.

6. Have Fun with Tooth Brushing

When you listen to music at the gym, time seems to fly, and your routine is more fun. The same is true for children, when tooth brushing is made more fun.

It is important that your child brushes for a minimum of two minutes per session. To encourage this focus, find a two-minute YouTube video or fun song they can play on your smartphone as they brush. Remember to supervise their brushing, so they do not stop the toothbrush movement to focus more on the video or music. Also, supervise to ensure they do not dance around too much while using the toothbrush. Another option is to set a digital timer for two minutes.

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