Do you sometimes struggle to get your children to brush their teeth? It’s not an easy task but it’s an important habit to start early in life, as good dental health is crucial to overall physical health.
Try these five tips:
1. Get your child accustomed to having his or her teeth cleaned as soon as the first baby teeth come in by wiping baby teeth clean with a soft cloth. Toddlers will often be more receptive to brushing their teeth later on.
2. You are your child’s first teacher and role model. Let them see you brushing and flossing daily, or make it a family affair.
3. Find good-tasting toothpaste and your child will be more likely to brush.
4. Buy brightly colored, hand-held flossers designed for kids.
5. Use motivational charts with activities teaching oral hygiene, or offer your child rewards for consistently brushing and flossing. Or try fun, educational pop-up books or a cartoon video like The Adventures of Timmy the Tooth.
“Parents should brush and floss for the child until he or she is old enough to tie their shoes without assistance,” says Dr. Charlotte Haney, residency program director of pediatric dentistry at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry. “Perhaps let the child brush first, then the parent does a follow-up.”
Dr. Haney recommends you take your child to the dentist when the first tooth comes in or by their first birthday.
Studies show that four out of five cavities in children under the age of 15 develop on the biting surface of back molars. Molars commonly decay because plaque accumulates in the tiny grooves of the chewing surfaces that toothbrush bristles can’t effectively reach and clean. Fluoride helps prevent cavities on smooth surfaces of the teeth, but is less effective in the deep pits and grooves. Sealants are a great preventive against tooth decay in permanent teeth. Sealants can be applied at the dentist’s office and some elementary schools offer them to children.