You know that a good dental hygiene routine is an important part of your child’s current and future oral health. Your child might even know that too. But there’s a difference between knowing the importance of proper dental hygiene and actually practicing dental hygiene. So how do you help your child get into good oral hygiene habits that will stick with them into adulthood? We’re glad you asked.
We’ve put together this helpful guide detailing how to help your kids practice proper dental hygiene to safeguard their teeth today and in the future.
Practice Makes Permanent
Obviously, any dental hygiene is better than nothing. But it’s also important to remember that whatever habits you teach your child today will probably stay with them for the rest of their life. That means it’s not just important to teach your child to floss and brush, you need to teach them how to brush and floss properly.
Here are a few pro-tips to use when teaching your child how to brush and floss their teeth.
Proper Brushing Technique
- Position the brush at a 45-degree angle towards the gumline. Starting at the back of the mouth, use tiny circles to brush all the way around the outside surface all of the teeth. Repeat this step with the inside surface of all the teeth as well.
- Hold the toothbrush straight up-and-down to brush behind the front teeth on the top and bottom.
- Using tiny circles again, brush the top surface of each tooth. Be sure to spend enough time on each tooth to fully clean out every nook or crevice.
- Remember to brush the tongue a little bit to get rid of any nasty bacteria.
- Spit out the toothpaste. You may want to have your child rinse their mouth with water as well to make sure they don’t swallow any trace amounts of toothpaste.
As soon as your kids have teeth, it’s time to start brushing. Even a single tooth needs to be brushed. Obviously, when your child’s teeth first erupt, they’ll be too young to do it themselves, so you’ll have to help them. Use a water-moistened soft-bristled brush to gently scrub away all the plaque from each tooth. Children should not use fluoride toothpaste until they’re old enough to spit.
Children between the ages of 2 and 5 will still need some help brushing their teeth. Still using a soft-bristled brush, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to brush the front, top, and back of each tooth. Gently brush all the way to the gumline in small circles. It’s a good idea to narrate what you’re doing so your child already has a basic idea of how it’s supposed to work by the time they start brushing themselves.
You should also brush your own teeth with your child in the room when you can. Not only does it help expose your kids to proper technique, it keeps you accountable as well. You’re a lot more likely to brush properly when you have an audience.
Ages 6 and Up
Your child may be ready to brush their own teeth by the time they turn six years old. Stay in the room with them while they brush for at least the first while to ensure they’re using the proper technique and remembering all the steps. Once they’re done, check their teeth to look for any spots they may have missed.
Proper Flossing Technique
While brushing removes most plaque, there are still places that a toothbrush just doesn’t reach. Flossing helps eliminate plaque stuck between teeth and at the gumline. Here are the steps involved in flossing effectively
- Start with a piece of floss that’s roughly 18 inches long. Wrap the floss around the index fingers on both hands, leaving a small amount of slack between them. If you’re teaching your child to do this themselves, be sure to teach them not to wrap the floss around their fingers too tightly.
- Starting at the back, gently work the floss between each tooth, remembering to floss the sides of the teeth at the very back of the jaws as well. Be sure to carefully work the floss down between the gums and the side of the tooth as well.
- Unwind a little bit of clean floss for each tooth, winding the used floss back up around your other finger.
When to Floss
You should start flossing your child’s teeth once a day around the ages of 3 or 4. You should floss for them until they’re 6 or so, at which point you can start teaching them how to do it themselves. We recommend you supervise for the first little while to ensure they use the proper technique and don’t miss any teeth.
Making Oral Hygiene Fun
How to Make it Fun
No one likes chores. Here are some tips to make brushing a little bit more fun for your kids.
Let them choose their toothbrush:
There are oodles of kids toothbrushes out there that are colourful and fun, and may even feature your child’s favourite character. Letting your child choose their own toothbrush makes brushing exciting and engaging for them. Plus, having that level of control will make them feel more grown-up and important.
Try different kinds of floss and toothpaste:
Variety is the spice of life! Purchase a few different flavours of training toothpaste, and let your child choose which flavour they’d like to use every night. Again, giving your child choices makes them an active participant in their oral hygiene routine rather than a passive bystander; it essentially gets your child’s buy-in to the process of brushing their teeth even before they’re ready to do it themselves.
Make brushing and flossing time storytime:
Short stories or small chapter books are a good way to keep your child entertained while they brush and floss their teeth. By only reading that particular story to your child while they go through their morning and evening routine, you’re creating an exclusive experience that they can only have by taking the appropriate time and effort with their oral hygiene.