Brushing your teeth is very important for your oral & overall health, but to kids, it’s just a chore. But it doesn’t have to be! Here are some tips for teaching your kids how to brush their teeth effectively & solidify good dental care habits for a lifetime of healthy teeth.
Step 1. Demonstrate.
To encourage your kids to brush their teeth properly, model good behavior! Brush your teeth at the same time as your child & let them watch you so they can see how it should be done. Explain what you’re doing as you’re doing it & brush in small circles on all surfaces of every tooth. Make sure you show how to angle the toothbrush at 45 degrees to brush the gum line effectively.
Step 2. Guide.
Kids usually don’t have good enough motor control to brush their own teeth well until they are 6 or 7, so until then, you can brush their teeth for them.
Show them how to squeeze a pea-sized amount of toothpaste onto the toothbrush (the ADA recommends using a rice grain-sized amount until your child is three years old) & have your child face the mirror so they can see & you can explain what you are doing. Go slow & show them proper brushing technique.
Once they are old enough to brush their teeth on their own, continue to brush your teeth at the same time as your child to encourage good dental care. If you’re nervous that they aren’t being thorough, trade off for a while. Your child can brush their own teeth in the morning, & then in the evening you can reinforce proper brushing technique by doing it for them.
Step 3. Encourage Them to Be Thorough.
Make sure your child is thorough & continues to brush for the entire two minutes. You can use songs or a timer to countdown, & tell them to make lots of bubbles with the toothpaste.
When the two minutes is up, instruct them to spit the toothpaste into the sink & never swallow it. Then, they should rinse their mouth & the toothbrush. To show them how thorough they need to be, you can use plaque dye tablets after brushing to show them the spots they missed.
Step 4. Floss!
Flossing is a very important part of the dental care routine that you should encourage your child to follow from an early age. To make it more fun & easy, you can use floss picks, because they often come in styles with characters.
As with brushing their teeth, teach your child the proper flossing technique. Wind 18 inches of floss around your middle fingers & pinch the floss between your thumb & index fingers. Gently insert the floss between two teeth using a back & forth motion. Curve the floss around each tooth in a C shape & move it up & down each tooth. You can demonstrate it, guide your child, & eventually let them try it themselves.
Tips & Tricks
40% of kids have cavities by the time they enter kindergarten, so it’s important to encourage good brushing habits early. Even though baby teeth will fall out eventually, it’s important to keep them clean & healthy anyway because they are guides & space holders for permanent teeth.
Here are some tips & tricks for making brushing fun!
- Practice on a model. You can use dolls, an upside-down egg carton, or an old toothbrush & paint & paper.
- Let your child choose their toothbrush & toothpaste! Get them involved in their health. You can also try an electric toothbrush, because those are fun for kids.
- Tell them a story about the sugar bugs that make holes in our teeth if we don’t brush them away.
- The circular movement of the toothbrush is kind of like the wheels on a train! Encourage them to move the train across their teeth.
- Tell them to pretend the brush is a superhero who is rescuing each tooth from plaque monsters.