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Stop Tooth Decay! Proper Tooth Brushing Habits for Children

03/06/2013 | Bedtime, Room to Grow | by Catherine Godiva

We humans tend to obsess about our teeth. It’s not hard to see why, considering that they have a prominent place right in the middle of our face but, for most children, a beautiful smile isn’t something they tend to worry about. Statistically speaking that’s quite obvious as over 40% of children already have cavities by the time they start school. In fact, the number 1 health problem affecting children today is tooth decay, which is 5 times more common than asthma and 7 times more than hayfever.

The best way to prevent children from having major dental problems is simply to teach them about how important their teeth are and thus the importance of keeping them healthy. What this basically means is teaching your children how to brush their teeth from as early an age as possible.

Some parents tend to brush off (pun intended) their child’s baby teeth because basically, by the time a child turns 13, most of their 20 primary teeth will have fallen out and been replaced by their permanent adult teeth.

The problem however is that our baby teeth are what guide our permanent teeth as far as placement is concerned. If they need to be pulled because they are rotten a child’s adult teeth will more than likely come in crooked. Not only that but cavities and diseased teeth can cause a lot of discomfort and set up a child to have a lifelong fear of the dentist caused by the pain of having to have their baby teeth pulled. And, as much as children tend to ignore their teeth, a child with ugly teeth or no front teeth is more likely to suffer self esteem issues than one that has attractive, healthy choppers.

There are certain things that you can do for babies and infants to help keep their teeth clean. But it is usually between the age of 2 and 3 years old and it is at this time that you should start teaching your child the basics of oral hygiene. From this time until they are about eight years old you definitely should supervise their brushing and help out if necessary.

One interesting way that some parents teach their children how to brush is by making toothbrushing a family activity. With everyone in the bathroom together, mum, dad and the kids can all brush at the same time. This will give the kids an excellent example of what they should be doing, how they should be holding their brush, proper brushing techniques and also an average length of time for brushing. This, incidentally, is around three minutes.

Letting your child pick the type of toothbrush that they want is a great way to get them to brush more often as well as, within limits, letting them choose their own toothpaste. You’d do well to find a toothpaste that is all-natural and doesn’t contain saccharin and other nasty ingredients. 

Lastly, one of the most important things to do is start bringing your child to the dentist for regular checkups as soon as they have most of their baby teeth. Frankly, your family dentist is much better equipped to teach your children about the importance of good oral hygiene and also will be able to make recommendations as far as the type of toothbrush that they should use and many other important factors.

The most important thing to remember is that the habits that your children learn when they are younger are the same habits that they will carry over into adulthood. If you make a concerted effort to teach them about their teeth, how to brush them and the fact that they are vital not just to look good but to live a healthy life, you will be helping them immeasurably and setting them up to have much fewer problems with  their teeth as adults.


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