How to Teach Your Kids to Brush More Effectively
Dental health affects the whole body. By teaching your kids to brush effectively, you help them prevent many physical problems in addition to preventing cavities and gum disease. Here is how.
Purchase the Right Brush
Child-sized brushes are easier from small hands to handle. Make sure you choose those with soft bristles because soft bristles are gentler on the gums and enamel. When teaching your child effective brushing techniques, do not use a battery-powered toothbrush in the beginning. After your child gets the basics down, then you can switch her to the powered toothbrushes, if you choose. It is better for a child to learn how to brush with a regular brush for any time a powered toothbrush is not available.
Tip: Help by Guiding Them
Place your hand gently over the child’s and guide the brushing the first few times. This is more effective for teaching most children than simply showing them or telling them how to brush more effectively.
Proper Brushing Techniques
- Angle the brush at about 45 degrees and do the outer surfaces of the upper teeth first, followed by the lower. Start at the gumline and move the brush up and down the tooth surfaces, using gentle short strokes.
- Scrub the tops (the biting surface) of the teeth by placing the bristles against the surfaces and move the brush back and forth.
- Don’t forget the back of the teeth – this is where most people don’t do a sufficient brushing job. The brush should be angled at 45 degrees and you should use short vertical strokes.
- Finish by showing the child how to brush the tongue. Many germs gather on the tongue and contribute to bad breath and oral diseases. Use a gentle, slow scraping motion from back to front. Have the child rinse her mouth thoroughly, reminding her not to swallow the toothpaste.
Use a Timer
Two minutes is the minimum amount of time required to do a good brushing job. To kids, this can feel like an eternity. Find a timer your child can use to ensure she is brushing long enough. Alternatively, play the child’s favorite song and encourage her to keep brushing for the length of the song.
Motivate & Lead by Example
Most children understand more than the adults around them might think. It is helpful to explain to a child why brushing correctly is so important. Choose age-appropriate language and try to answer any questions your child has about brushing. You can keep it simple for young children by just explaining that the mouth gets germs, and that these germs need to be brushed away so that the teeth look nice, the breath is fresh, and that we remain healthy. You can teach your older child about plaque, tartar build up and cavities.
Your child will tend to follow your example, so one of the best ways of teaching effective brushing is to make sure that you brush your teeth in the way you want your child to brush. Two to three times a day is best, and do not forget to floss as well. Good habits can last a lifetime, and effective brushing is one of the most important daily habits your child can learn for better health.