Hey Moms and Dads, is it time to teach your kids how to brush? Taking the time to teach your children to clean their own teeth at an early age will pay off in the long run. Learning to brush teeth is an essential skill for your toddler's long-term dental health.
By the time children attend kindergarten, approximately 40 percent or more will have tooth decay, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Of course, children still have their baby teeth at that point, but the AAP also points out that children with tooth decay in their early years are at much greater risk for cavities in their adult teeth. So grab your toothbrushes and get ready.
When Is It Time to Learn How to Brush?
Each child is ready at a different age. Fine motor skills--the same skills that enable your little one to tie his or her shoes--develop differently in each child. However, many children are ready to brush by the time they head to preschool.
If you're not sure about your child's readiness to brush, ask your pediatrician or the child's dentist. The AAP points out that pediatricians are well equipped to answer questions about dental health. But you should check with the dentist, as well. The dental experts at Colgate recommend that every child see a dentist by the time they are one to two years of age.
Learning to Brush Teeth: A Partner Approach
Kids love to mimic their parents, so make dental care a team effort in the beginning. Let your toddler watch you brush your teeth and demonstrate proper brushing techniques. Then let your little one give it a try.
Put a tiny pea-sized drop of toothpaste on your child's soft-bristle brush. Then show him how to guide the brush in his own mouth. Angle the toothbrush to reach the gums and then let him try it on his own. Guide his hands to show the back and forth motion that is needed to clean his teeth.
As you notice your child mastering the basic skills of brushing, ease off the time you spend brushing with him. Continue to work side by side, however, to offer help when needed and to remind your child about the importance of dental health.