From the minute your baby’s first teeth emerged, the chances are good that you have been brushing their pearly whites twice a day and flossing like clockwork in sheer pride. Every parent wants their child to have a perfect smile.
When your child reaches five or six years old, it’s time to turn over the brushing and flossing reins and let your little one tackle the task on their own. Here are a few tips to teach your child how to brush and floss solo.
1. Load Up On Supplies
Involve your child in the process of brushing by making it a fun activity. Take your little one to the store and let them pick out their own supplies. There are a wide array of toothbrushes on the market geared towards children. They feature bright colors and often boast the image of a favorite cartoon character emblazoned across the handle. Some of the toothbrushes also gently vibrate for more efficient cleaning. There are even children’s toothbrushes that play songs while the child brushes. Children’s toothpaste also comes in numerous flavors such as bubblegum, mint and strawberry. When a child reaches 8 years old, you can also encourage them to use children’s mouthwash. Some mouthwashes leave a colorful residue behind on the child’s teeth to indicate areas they might have missed while brushing.
2. Supervised Practice
It is going to take your child time to master good oral hygiene habits. At first, they will miss areas and probably not get close enough to the gum line to adequately remove all plaque. However, do not despair because with enough practice they will become a professional.
3. Brushing Games
Until your child reaches the point where they can manage brushing solo, you will have to have them open their mouth so you can do an inspection and followup brushing. You might want to consider incorporating an hourglass timer into your child’s brushing routine. Let your child set the hourglass to flow while they brush. When the sand flows out of the hourglass, it’s time to hand over the toothbrush to mom or dad and let them have a turn. Children who don’t know how to tell time can easily grasp the concept of an hourglass and they are usually more than willing to take turns brushing when the activity seems like a game. Just make the entire brushing process fun and filled with praise. Some parents even reward their child with a sticker every time they brush their teeth to offer encouragement. Most children do not successfully brush their teeth unsupervised until they are around 8 years old.
4. Flossing is Important
Even though many children have wide gaps between their teeth, flossing is still an important habit that you need to instill in your child when they start to brush their teeth. Flossing needs to be done at least once a day. Teaching your child to floss daily is important because they will take the skill into adulthood.
5. Kids Need Six Month Dental Visits, Too!
Even when kids are very young, they still need to visit the dentist regularly. At Carolina Smiles Family Dentistry, we provide pediatric dentistry for the West Columbia community! Whether your little ones need dental sealants, fluoride treatments, or even personal brushing and flossing instructions, we do it all!
With good oral hygiene habits and regular dental exams your child will be able to maintain their teeth in tip-top condition for a lifetime and that is something every parent can truly smile about.
Call your dentist in West Columbia for an appointment.