Written by: Joanne Lowe
Teaching your children to brush their teeth properly and regularly is essential for good dental health. The routine shouldn’t start when they have a full set of pearly whites, but when their first little peggy breaks through. Here are some dental health tips for children to help keep them decay free.
The first brush
Baby teeth start coming through anywhere between 0 and 6 months old so when that first milk tooth appears brush with a fluoride toothpaste. Using fluoride toothpaste is important as it helps prevent and control tooth decay. The advice is to use to use a smear of toothpaste for children under the age of three. Between the ages of three and six a pea sized blob should be used. It is important to care for milk teeth properly as they reserve space for their permanent teeth and give them a healthy start. They can even affect your child’s face shape and speech development.
How long to brush
Teeth should be brushed twice a day for at least two minutes each time. This is best done before bedtime and at one other time during the day. If you can get your children to spit out the toothpaste, but not rinse with lots of water it is better. This is because rinsing afterwards will wash away the fluoride and reduce its benefits.
You should watch your child brush their teeth until the age of seven or eight years old to make sure they are doing it properly. Doing it yourself first and then letting them have a go afterwards is a good way of knowing their teeth have been cleaned while not taking away their independence. You can guide your child’s hand so that they learn the correct movements and also use a mirror so they can see where to brush.
Trips to the dentist
Take your child to the dentist when their first milk teeth appear so that they get used to it. It also helps to let them see you go and learn that there is nothing to be afraid of. If you can approach it with a calm manner your child will be more likely to accept it as a positive experience. Make sure you pay regular visits to the dentist to keep a check on your child’s dental health. From the age of three children can have a fluoride varnish to protect their teeth and fissure sealants can be applied to your child’s permanent back teeth when they come through to protect them from decay.
Make it fun
Some children accept brushing their teeth as part of their daily routine, others just don’t like it. There are lots of things you can do if your child is one who doesn’t enjoy it. There are lots of colourful toothbrushes on the market. Ones that light up, flash for two minutes to encourage brushing time or have children’s characters sprawled over them. There are also fun toothpastes for kids in exciting flavours like bubble gum and strawberry. You can introduce a timer so that they brush for the whole two minutes or use disclosing tablets so they can see what areas haven’t been cleaned properly. Letting them brush their dolls teeth or toys teeth to make it more fun is also a good trick. Finally brush along with them, children learn a lot through imitation.