We all know how important it is that our kids clean their teeth regularly – the healthier the milk teeth are, the longer they will last. Strong and healthy teeth are essential for chewing the right types of food to grow strong, healthy bodies. Most kids these days have a diet with plenty of sugar – most processed foods contain sugar, so it’s more important than ever that today’s kids learn good oral hygiene.
This means that regular brushing (at least twice a day) is vital and we, as parents, have the responsibility of teaching our kids how to brush their teeth properly. Brushing should begin when your child’s first teeth start to appear. Use a soft-bristled brush with a pea sized dollop of toothpaste and gently brush. If your little one has watched you brushing your own teeth, then it’s a fair bet that he/she will want to have a go! This is how all little ones learn – they watch what Mum and Dad do and copy.
In the spirit of independence, most kids will want to brush their own teeth. However, making sure they brush correctly can be difficult. Try letting them have the first go with the toothbrush and then you take the brush from them and finish off the job. Although kids will want to brush their own teeth every time, it’s vital that you brush their teeth for them for the first few years at least. My dentist recommended that I carry on brushing my kids’ teeth until they were seven years of age. Yes, it’s a bit of a bind, but it paid great dividends – neither of them have ever had a filling!
If they’re reluctant to have their teeth brushed, try making it a fun activity. Make sure that you buy them a colourful, zany looking toothbrush – let them choose their new toothbrushes. Toothbrushes need to be replaced on a regular basis – most dentists recommend a new one every three months. If you’re thinking of buying an electric toothbrush for your child, then make sure that the replacement heads are widely available (and not overly expensive). If your little one has suffered with a mouth infection of any sort, then it’s essential to buy a new toothbrush to prevent recurrence of the infection – toothbrushes can be a breeding ground for germs, bacteria and fungus.
Kids’ toothpastes come is such a wide variety of flavours nowadays that it will be easy to find something that your child likes – this means no more excuses for avoiding brushing. Let your little one do the choosing and he/she is much more likely to be co-operative when it comes to brushing teeth.
Toothbrush hygiene is just as important as a regular change of brush. After brushing, teach your child to clean the brush by running under the tap, then shaking dry. Make sure family toothbrushes are stored in such a way that they don’t touch each other and spread germs. This means that a toothbrush holder with several, well-spaced slots is much better than a toothbrush mug. Once the toothbrush has been cleaned, hang it upright to dry in the open air.
By teaching your kids the rudiments of oral hygiene, you’ll cut down on dental treatment in the future, a real recipe for great big cheesy smiles in all the family photos.