Mother and Daughter Brushing Teeth

How to Teach Your Children to Brush Their Teeth

Taking care of your child's oral health begins with proper toothbrushing habits, and it's never too early (or too late) to start! Whether you're celebrating a little one's first tooth or having daily brushing battles with a toddler, find the tips and information you need to teach your children how to brush their teeth and make good oral hygiene a lifelong practice.

When to Start Brushing Your Child's Teeth

Did you know you can begin implementing an oral hygiene routine a few days after birth? Use a clean, wet gauze or washcloth to gently wipe your infant's gums after feedings. As soon as your child's first tooth erupts, it's time to begin brushing with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush twice a day. Continue brushing your child's teeth until you're confident that they can brush on their own. Every child develops at their own pace and is ready at a different age; however, most can brush when they enter preschool. At that time, supervise toothbrushing time — making sure they use the right amount of toothpaste, reminding them not to swallow the toothpaste, and following up by brushing any places they might have missed.

How to Brush Your Child's Teeth

Brushing your child's teeth doesn't have to be complicated. Start with these five easy steps:

  • Step 1: Apply the right amount of toothpaste. The ADA recommends a rice-sized smear for children ages 0 to 3 years and a pea-size amount for children ages three and up.
  • Step 2: Angle the toothbrush 45 degrees. The toothbrush should be facing towards the gums of the upper or lower teeth.
  • Step 3: Move the brush gently back and forth with short, tooth-size strokes. Continue this technique for the interior, exterior, and chewing surfaces of the teeth.
  • Step 4: Hold the toothbrush in a vertical position to brush the front teeth. Make sure to clean the front and back.
  • Step 5: Brush the tongue to remove bacteria from the surface.

How long should you brush your child's teeth? Two minutes of teeth brushing twice a day should help remove harmful plaque and prevent tooth decay. Don't forget to pause and let them spit!

Taking Care of Your Kid's Teeth

Teaching your child to brush their teeth properly is the first step to developing lifelong oral hygiene habits. However, if you're looking for more ways to take care of your child's teeth, consider the following tips and practices:

  • No matter how often you explain the importance of clean and healthy teeth, some children will still refuse to brush. If you're tired of the tears and fights, follow these tips for making brushing fun for your kids.
  • Combine proper toothbrushing with cleaning between your child's teeth daily. Teaching your child to floss is a popular choice, but you can also use water flossers or other interdental devices.
  • The National Center for Health Statistics reports that one in five U.S. children under five has experienced dental caries. Combat tooth decay with fluoride toothpaste, a proper oral care routine, and regular visits to the dentist.

Teaching toothbrushing to toddlers and preschoolers is no easy task, but you've got this! Follow these tips, stick to your routine, and remember that the work you're putting in today will help take care of your favorite little smile for a lifetime.

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