Excellent oral and dental health begins in infancy. Even when babies don’t have teeth yet, they should already be accustomed to the sensations of having a soft bristled toothbrush applying gentle pressure on their gums. We don’t have to wait until babies have grown their full set of deciduous dentition before we start teaching them how to properly care for their pearly whites. Of course, by the time they have already grown their first few buds, we should already begin teaching them how to properly brush their teeth.
Brushing Teeth Properly
Teaching kids how to brush their teeth often depends on the age of your child. If your child is still too young to comprehend what you are saying, then teaching him or her might be difficult. In most instances you will have to do the brushing for them. However, once your kid is already showing signs of imitative movements or is already able to imitate what you are doing, then teaching kids how to brush and floss their teeth can be a lot easier since all they have to do is to watch and imitate your every move. It becomes all the more crucial that you know what you are doing.
Nevertheless, here are some tips on how you can teach your kids to brush their pearly whites properly.
Play make-believe dentist
Children love playtime. And play is the best tool for kids to learn different things, including brushing their dentition. Dental experts strongly recommend including make-believe or pretend plays in children’s playtime activities so they get to learn all the basics of brushing. This includes how to properly hold the toothbrush, how much toothpaste
to put onto the brush, and how to angle the brush.. While there are plenty of make-believe toys that can do a good job of simulating a toothbrushing experience, kids can always start by pretending to be dentists. You can get them a dentist uniform complete with a toy dentistry playset. Give them a doll or a stuffed toy that will serve as their patient and they can practice “brushing” and “flossing” their “patient’s” teeth. This is a very fun and easy way to teach kids the proper way of brushing teeth
Use appropriate technology
There are several mobile apps today that can help facilitate the teaching of proper brushing of the teeth to kids. These apps are filled with interactive games and activities with a built-in timer. According to the American Dental Association, one needs two minutes of brushing time to really ensure optimum dental and oral health. Unfortunately, the concept of time among young kids is vague, to say the least. With the use of these applications, kids can follow the learning videos and other brushing activities all within the prescribed time of 2 minutes. This can develop into a habit which they can carry over well into their adulthood.
Try plaque disclosing tablets
There will always be times when we cannot really supervise the brushing of our children. In most cases they may not really be able to remove their plaque and debris from their pearly whites. Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to point to young kids where plaques usually form in the gum
line. We can help them visualize the placement of these plaques by letting them chew on plaque disclosing tablets. These tablets are colored red. When your kid chews on these tablets for about 30 seconds before spitting the saliva out, the plaque will also be colored red. This makes it very easy for kids to identify which areas of their dentition have plaque. They can then use this visual cue to properly brush. You can look at it as an incentive for really cleaning the teeth and removing the plaque that can harbor many of the germs that cause bad breath, tooth decay, and even gum problems.
Let them watch children’s shows that teach correct brushing
Akin to letting children play like dentists, letting them watch kid experts on children’s TV shows like Sesame Street can help encourage them to learn how to brush properly. There are also plenty of activities, dances, and songs on Sesame Street that portray brushing as a very fun activity. Besides, with Elmo and the rest of the gang providing the encouragement, your child will surely be more than motivated to learn more than the basics.
Take them to the dentist
Your dentist is an excellent resource person for teaching your kids on the correct way to brush their teeth. Ask your dentist to show your kid a model of the tooth and where plaques typically develop. You can then use this model to provide a very graphic demonstration of how the toothbrush needs to be angled so that these plaques can be removed. There are also other learning models in a dentist’s office which can help your child better understand the need for correct brushing of the teeth.
Be a good example
This cannot really be overstated. When we say being a good role model, you really have to know how to brush your teeth the proper way yourself. And you should also be able to show your child exactly how it is supposed to be done. Many of us never fail in reminding our kids to brush their teeth after every meal, but do they see us doing it? We tell them to brush their teeth for at least 2 minutes, but are we observing the same rule? Some of us, because of time constraints, don’t even bother brushing our pearly whites anymore. How can we expect our kids to learn the proper way of doing things when they don’t see us doing the same things we want and expect them to do? Being a good example means living what you are saying to your kids. If we say we have to brush our teeth correctly, then we should do it ourselves every time and all the time, even if our kids are not present.
Teaching kids how to properly brush their teeth starts with us. By being good role models to them and by giving them a variety of opportunities to learn and master the different techniques of properly brushing their teeth, we can help ensure a brighter oral and dental health for them. For some of the leading products at the moment, have a look at our featured article on the top electric toothbrushes for kids here