Teaching Kids about Brushing and Flossing

I want to instill in my child’s mind the value of dental care, especially of regular toothbrushing. But, usually, toothbrushing time is a battleground for me and my three-year-old. I just can’t make him do it; or it takes such herculean strength and determination. What should I do?

When it comes to brushing and flossing for kids, both tasks require good manual dexterity, or in other words, good control of the toothbrush and floss; something most kids do not develop until around age six. It is important for an adult to brush a child’s teeth twice a day to ensure the removal of plaque to prevent tooth decay. Until the age of six children should be supervised while brushing. Brushing should last for at least two minutes. But in the case of children, it will generally require a bit more time and patience for the person helping the child.

Here are a few helpful tips:

  • Make sure that your body language and tone of voice do not send the message that toothbrushing is an ordeal. Sometimes, toothbrushing becomes a battleground because Mommy appears to be in full battle gear (so to speak) when she orders her little one to march to the sink and do it.
  • You may try to brush your teeth together, taking turns brushing each other’s teeth. Tell him to do to your teeth what you first do to his teeth. Make this as playful as possible.
  • Use one of the familiar cartoon character brushes, especially if there is one of your child’s favorite. Tell him that his favorite cartoon character will cry if he does not use him to brush his teeth. While you’re at it, you may want to sing the theme song from your child’s favorite cartoon or a nursery rhyme.
  • Us a soft-bristled toothbrush with just a little toothpaste. Use toothpaste and mouth rinse that have pleasant flavors for sensitive taste buds. Better yet, bring your child to choose his own toothbrush and toothpaste. Avoid using toothpaste containing fluoride because the child may swallow it and develop fluorosis.
  • Use syllables like “ahhhh” or “eeeeeee” to help your child open their mouth or move their lips away from their teeth while brushing.
  • Hold the brush at A 45-degree angle with the bristles pointed in the direction of the gumline.
  • Gently brush the teeth with a circular motion. Brush the outside, inside and biting surfaces of the teeth.
  • Children have fairly large spaces between the teeth so flossing should be easy.Some children however, do have tight spaces, and require daily flossing to prevent tooth decay between the teeth. Consider using a flossing aide, they are easily used between the teeth, cleaning gently and effectively and allow the child to attempt to floss on his own.

 Remember, when you teach a child something new at a young age, he will learn the task and continue it well into adulthood. Brushing and flossing has never been more important. Bring your child in to see the dentist as early as the first signs of teeth. Children, depending on their oral hygiene, may have dental appointments once every six months to one year.

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