Help your children learn good brushing habits as soon as they can pick up a toothbrush. Brushing baby teeth together makes the task productive, fun and educational. From the moment you see the first tooth bud until your children turn 8 years old, assist with their dental care routine, suggests the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
Choose the Right Tools
When brushing teeth for the first time, use a soft-bristle baby toothbrush. These have a shorter handle than adult-size brushes, making it easier to navigate a small mouth. Plan to replace this toothbrush if the child gets sick with a contagious illness, such as the flu, or routinely every three months.
Remember to choose a child-friendly toothpaste for children ages 0 to 2. This toothpaste is safe if accidentally swallowed and does not contain fluoride, artificial colors or preservatives. After your child's second birthday, start using fluoridated toothpaste.
Plan on brushing baby teeth twice a day. Spend approximately two minutes each morning after breakfast and before bedtime moving the toothbrush over the child's teeth in a gentle circular motion and also using back and forth strokes. Work over all areas including the teeth, gums and tongue to tackle cavity-causing plaque and bacteria.
If your child has several teeth and two or more of the teeth are touching, end your brushing session with flossing. This helps to remove foods that are trapped between the teeth. Work slowly and carefully to avoid putting too much pressure on the gums.
Make Toothbrushing Fun
Keep a positive attitude to make toothbrushing fun. By smiling and telling a child that they are doing a good job, the task will be more pleasurable for both of you. If the child gets upset, try singing a song together. Your little one will soon learn that, once the song is over, so is the dental care.
You can also try using novelty toothbrushes printed with favourite cartoon and comic book characters. Different flavours of toothpaste will also help to add some fun to the routine. Finally, to make things a bit more special, keep a unique cup in the bathroom for older children to use when rinsing.