Michelle H. Edwards, DDS, MSD

9885 E. 116th Street, Suite 100

Fishers, IN 46037

Teaching Kids to Brush

Early childhood tooth decay is a real threat to your little ones. The CDC reports that up to 42% of kids have had cavities in their teeth. If left unchecked, cavities can cause pain and dental sensitivity that can make it hard for your kids to eat healthy foods. This is why teaching your child to brush and floss effectively is so important. As with anything else, teaching your child healthy habits from the time they are young can make it much easier for them down the road. Here is a dental care guide for children, what to look for as a parent, and how to make brushing fun for your kids.

Oral Hygiene Guide for Children

Infants

You can start healthy oral hygiene habits before your child even has teeth. Babies’ mouths can collect oral bacteria and food residues just like older children. The American Dental Association recommends wiping down your baby’s gums after each feeding with a piece of clean, wet gauze.

Toddlers 1-2

Children should go to a pediatric dentist in Indianapolis by the time they are one or when they get their first tooth, whichever comes first. Between the ages of one and two, parents should help their children to brush with a child’s toothbrush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste. Make sure to use a small amount of children's toothpaste. It tastes better, so your child is more likely to enjoy the experience, and it is less dangerous to ingest than adult's toothpaste.

Children 3-5

As soon as your child has two teeth that touch each other, you should start teaching them how to floss. Children’s flossing picks are a good option, since they have child-sized handles. They also don’t need your child to hold slippery floss, and can go between teeth easily. Between the ages of three and five, kids should be brushing with a pea-sized dollop of toothpaste.

Kids Over 6

By the time kids are six years old, they should be able to brush and floss on their own. But, it is always a good idea to confirm that your child has brushed their teeth and that they are reaching their molars. It can be a good idea to challenge your child to brush the length of their favorite song, to make sure they are brushing all their teeth.

Remember: Technique Is Crucial

Technique is crucial when it comes to preventing dental decay. Teach your kids to brush twice a day and to spend at least two minutes gently brushing their teeth. Talk with your children about working in circular motions and sweeping away grime that may have accumulated near the gum line.

Teaching your child healthy brushing habits from the time they are young can make it much easier for them down the road.

Ways To Make Brushing Fun

Let Your Child Choose Their Supplies

Kids are much more likely to get excited about brushing and flossing their teeth when they like the supplies they are using. Instead of choosing run-of-the-mill oral hygiene supplies, consider splurging and letting your child choose. That character toothbrush or that neon green variety they adore are just as effective as the generic brands. It can surprise you to see how much more excited a kid is about brushing when they get to do it with a bright purple toothbrush with a picture of a princess on it.

Try Plaque Detection Tablets

Children are more inquisitive than many people realize. Explaining the “why” behind your instructions can be very beneficial. To help children to see that invisible plaque, buy some plaque detection tablets and hold a family meeting to talk about brushing. Plaque detection tablets use bright food-safe dyes to color plaque, showing kids where to focus their brush strokes.

Make It A Challenge and Offer Rewards

Once kids are in the habit of brushing and flossing their teeth, it becomes much easier to get them to do it twice a day. Consider offering your children challenges centered around brushing and flossing. You can also give them a small reward as an incentive to take care of their smiles.

For more information about teaching your kids proper oral hygiene, make an appointment with the Children's Dental Center, one of the best pediatric dentists in Indianapolis and Fishers.