The gift of good oral health is one of the most precious things you can pass along to your children. And it all begins by teaching them how to take care of their teeth starting at a very early age. You should start wiping out your baby’s mouth very gently with clean, wet gauze during the first weeks of life, preferably right after you feed them. Later, after the first baby tooth erupts, it’s time to begin brushing. You can find soft-bristled toothbrushes designed for toddlers at almost any drug store or supermarket, as well as age-appropriate toothpaste. Remember to only use a tiny amount – about the size of a grain of rice – and be very gentle with your toddler. By the time your child reaches about 2, you can increase the amount of toothpaste to a pea-sized dab.
When your child reaches the age of about 6, it’s time to teach them how to brush on their own. Just like adults, kids need to brush twice a day (morning and night). Be sure that you provide them with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste made for children. Here are the steps you can follow to teach your little one how to brush their own teeth:
- Begin by showing your child how much toothpaste to put on the brush.
- Next, demonstrate how to hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
- Teach your child how to brush using back and forth short strokes, reaching every tooth surface, on both the inner and outer sides of the teeth. They’ll need to hold the toothbrush slightly differently to reach the inner portions of the front top and bottom teeth. Demonstrate this first, then guide them as they begin to do it on their own. Remind your child to brush his or her tongue as well.
- When your child’s teeth have erupted next to one another, it’s time to teach them to floss. They should do this at least once a day, preferably at night before bed. The easiest way to do this is to demonstrate how to hold the floss, then helping your little one to wrap the floss around his or her fingers, and guiding their hands as they reach between all their baby teeth with the floss.
- It’s a good idea to supervise your kids during the first few months that they brush and floss on their own, to make sure that they are actually doing what they’ve been asked to do, and that they’re doing it properly.
We all want to give our sons and daughters the best lives possible, and that includes good oral health. Fortunately, we can make great strides toward that goal by teaching our children good oral hygiene routines that they can follow each and every day for the rest of their lives. Good oral health – what a wonderful gift to give to our children!