If you have questions about caring for your preschooler's teeth, you're not alone. Introducing young children to brushing may be intimidating for parents. However, it doesn't have to be if you and your child follow these tips to help keep your child's teeth healthy and pearly white. In addition to using popular characters and music, such as the popular Elmo brushing teeth song, there are several other strategies you can use to inspire proper oral care practices in kids.
Getting a Head Start on Oral Hygiene
Parents should start introducing children to a regular oral care regimen before the child's first tooth erupts through the gum. You can begin the process by wiping your infant's gums and any teeth that are erupting with wet gauze immediately after meal time. Doing this will help your child get used to regular oral hygiene efforts and any food particles and bacteria that are clinging to your baby's erupting teeth and gums will be removed.
Introducing Your Toddler to the Toothbrush
Children should be introduced to brushing between the ages of 12 to 18 months. You will need to use a soft toothbrush designed for toddlers. Don't add toothpaste just yet. You should make the process as fun as possible for your toddler. You can use well-known characters to demonstrate proper brushing for your toddler to help your child relate. In fact, many parents play the popular video of Sesame Street's favorite Elmo brushing his teeth for their toddlers using a smartphone or iPhone while the child is brushing his teeth.
Adding Toothpaste to Your Child's Oral Care Regimen
After your toddler has turned 3, you can begin adding a small amount of Colgate Children's My First Toddler Fluoride Free Toothpaste. A drop of toothpaste the size of a pea should be appropriate. You should ensure that your child is aware that it is necessary to spit the toothpaste out instead of swallowing it. Offering your toddler a small sip of water during brushing and demonstrating how to swish the water around should encourage your child to spit any toothpaste out.
Striving for Quality Brushing Time Over Quantity
The American Dental Association recommends that you spend at least two minutes brushing your toddler's teeth. However, this might not be practical with toddlers. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggests that you focus on covering all the tooth surfaces, especially your child's back teeth. You may not be able to get your toddler to let you spend two minutes brushing their teeth, but you can make sure every tooth is brushed during the time you do spend brushing your toddler's teeth. You can use the Elmo brushing teeth song to time your oral care sessions in order to motivate your toddler.
Let Your Child Do the Brushing
After age 4, your child should start brushing his or her teeth with supervision. Of course, you should watch them closely throughout the process. You may have to help out with the hard to reach back teeth. Most dentists agree that children should be monitored while brushing their teeth until age 8 or 9. Sometimes children are in too much of hurry to play or do other activities; they may not brush their teeth properly.