|Tips for Brushing
As any parent of young children knows, getting children to do things they don't want to do is a real challenge. Instilling good brushing habits is no different. If you're having trouble in this area, SRD on 5th has some suggestions for you.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggests you start brushing your child's teeth right when the first one emerges or at 6 months, whichever happens first. You should brush your child's teeth or assist them while they do it until they are 8 years old and assist with flossing until the child turns 10.
Let your Child pick their own Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Take your child to the drugstore or pharmacy and let them pick out a toothbrush. Brushes are available in a wide array of shapes and sizes, with cartoon characters, flashing lights, and even music. We recommend a brush with a small head and soft bristles.
A large selection of flavored, safe-to-swallow toothpastes is also available. Let your child pick their favorite flavor. If you end up going with fluoridated toothpaste, use a smear for children under age 3 and a pea-sized amount for children age 3 and older.
Make Brushing a Fun Experience
Children like to copy parents and older siblings, so take advantage of this natural tendency and have your child watch you when you brush your teeth. You can even let them brush your teeth for you!
There are many tooth brushing songs online for you to play while your child brushes his teeth. You can play one of these or a video for 2 minutes while your child brushes. Create a tooth brushing achievement chart and let your child put a sticker on it every time they brush successfully. You can use a timer or counting as a fun way to prevent the child from becoming bored or impatient when they brush. Then give your child a hug and read them a bedtime story.
Age-appropriate books about brushing containing relatable characters are also available to teach your kids the importance of oral hygiene. If all else fails, give your kids a reward if they brush correctly, like extra time playing video games or watching TV.
Proper Brush Handling
Sometimes kids have trouble holding a toothbrush. If this happens, try putting the handle inside a tennis ball to make it thicker. You can also use a hairband, a long rubber band, or Velcro to attach the brush to the child's hand. Toothbrushes with thick handles are also available in retail stores.
Position the child so they feel comfortable. Divide the brushing process into steps that the child can understand. If necessary, place your hand over the child's hand to direct the toothbrush as they brush.
A parent should place the correct amount of toothpaste on the child's brush until the child is old enough to do it on their own. Children who use toothpaste with fluoride are supposed to swish with it but not swallow it, so help your child spit it out or watch them while they brush. If your child is having a hard time spitting, have them tilt their mouth down so the toothpaste can trickle down into the sink, a washcloth, or a cup.
If your child struggles with any of these things, please contact Dr. Victoria or Dr. Rodriguez, a childhood specialist or an occupational therapist.
For more information, please contact our office at 256-712-4080.
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