The age we recommend to first start brushing a child’s teeth is when that first tooth emerges. Of course, they’re too young then to do it on their own. However, as your child progresses, you should help him or her to build healthy dental habits. Here are some tips on how you can encourage your child to brush their teeth.
Make it a Habit Early On
Make tooth brushing a regular part of the bedtime and morning routines from the start. Once your child is old enough to brush their teeth on their own, show them how to do it correctly, and don’t let them skip brushing. Enforce that it is an important part of being and staying healthy.
Set a Good Example
Most kids look up to their parents’ behaviors, so use that to demonstrate good oral habits and routines. Set a time where you brush your teeth while your child is brushing theirs. Let them mimic the proper way to brush (not scrubbing). They often want to be “just like” mommy or daddy and will copy your behavior.
Make Brushing Time Fun
You can encourage your child to brush their teeth by making tooth brushing time a game or a challenge. Or use products that are fun for kids like toothbrushes featuring their favorite characters, kid-friendly flavored toothpastes, or highly-colorful brushes and toothpastes. Find out what their favorites are and provide them for your children.
Offer a Reward
Lots of parents use a reward chart when tasks are completed. You can hang one in the bathroom and check off days when tooth brushing is completed. Choose a reward in advance and let your child earn points towards that reward. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive, and we’d recommend staying away from candy as a reward.
Set Regular Dental Appointments
As we said in the beginning, regular dental care should begin about the time that the first tooth emerges. Start regular twice-a-year dental cleanings and checkups for your child in year one, and continue to make it a priority throughout their lives. When they learn that the dentist is not scary, they will be encouraged to continue their good oral care habits and be willing to cooperate with dental procedures when they become necessary.
Getting regular cleanings helps keep your child’s mouth healthy so that the instances of needing additional dental care are lessened.
Once your child is old enough, you and/or your dentist should talk to them about the consequences of not brushing. How cavities can form, or how gums can become inflamed. Teach them what warning signs to look for, like bleeding gums, pain while chewing, or tooth sensitivity. Problems caught early on can more easily be remedied.
There are a number of ways you can encourage your child to brush his teeth. What creative ways can you think of?
Related: Teeth Brushing for Kids: Three Strategies for Proper Technique
Family Dental Care at Advanced Family Dentistry
We encourage families to start early when discussing and implementing proper dental care, and we are happy to help you show your child how to brush correctly or answer any questions you might have about how to get your child to brush.
At Advanced Family Dentistry, our focus is on you and your family. We see patients from age one throughout their entire lives. This way you can build a relationship with us and we with you.
When you need a family dentist in Northern Virginia, contact us. We’re conveniently located in Reston.
Dr. Sonny Kim is a Diplomat of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists (ICOI), the highest education level for general dentists in this field.