Even then children still need supervision to be sure their teeth are thoroughly brushed. This is a great age to begin incorporating a new privilege into the daily routines associated with school.
However, even younger children should start learning and practicing healthy dental habits.
Kids three to six years old should use a 1/4 pea-sized amount of toothpaste on a toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles.
The toothbrush needs to be held at a 45 degree angle to the teeth, so it can reach slightly under the gum-line. This helps remove plaque and bacteria that start to build up here.
Brush in small circles, so a few teeth are cleaned at a time.
Don’t forget to brush the gum-line, and the outside, inside and chewing surface of each tooth, along with the tongue and roof of the mouth.
Aim for completely cleaning the gum line part of the tooth. A good way to verify this is to look in a mirror as you brush. You can literally see the tooth getting clean in real time. Once it’s clean, move on to the next tooth. Once you’re sure all of the gum line parts of your teeth are clean, then you’re done. (Except for flossing!)
Spit out the toothpaste so you don’t swallow the plaque and bacteria you just brushed off. Gross!
In addition to brushing twice a day, be sure to floss once a day to get the spots a brush can’t reach. When teeth touch one another, it creates a part of the tooth that is completely inaccessible to anything but floss. This is the last 10% of the tooth that for some people, could become decayed. Take the extra time to remove all the plaque instead of some of it. This little tip may make the difference in keeping your teeth healthy.
It is great to start healthy habits before your child gets their first tooth. Use a soft toddler’s toothbrush to brush as soon as your baby’s first tooth appears and add a ¼ pea-sized, non-fluoride, Xylitol rich toothpaste until they are three years old.
Let your child watch you brush your teeth. Toddlers want to be like their parents and will probably mimic your behavior. If they see you brush twice a day, it sends the subliminal message that taking care of your teeth is important. They will want to copy you and it helps them form a great lifetime routine.
As soon as your child can hold a brush, let them try. Have them brush first, maybe while you are brushing your teeth, then you brush when they are done. This helps them learn over the years how to properly brush their teeth and forms a habit that will benefit them for their whole life.
Don’t forget to replace toothbrushes every 3-4 months. Frayed toothbrushes do not clean as well and can cause canker sores.
Make brushing a priority. Don’t let it slide when you are tired or busy. Your child will follow your lead, even when you don’t realize you are sending the wrong message.
Keep the experience positive. Don’t threaten with going to the dentist if they don’t brush. Visiting the dentist needs to be viewed as a positive experience, not a punishment. Brushing is good for you, and children will respond better and form a healthy dental routine if you use fun, encouragement and rewards to create this important lifelong habit.
At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics, we strive to provide the highest comprehensive pediatric and orthodontic dental care in a unique, fun-filled environment staffed by a team of caring, energetic professionals. We believe the establishment of a “dental home” at an early age is the key to a lifetime of positive visits to the dentist.