Here are three tips that should have your children brushing their teeth like a champ.
It’s tough to get young children to brush their teeth. Whether you blame a lack of understanding of the long term implications or the laziness of the Smartphone generation, getting philosophical about it isn’t removing plaque from your child’s teeth. A tough little window exists somewhere between age 6 and 12. Your child is too old and independent for you to hold them down and brush their teeth, but they’re too young to care about putting any effort into their health or physical appearance. Every child is different, and the window I described might be different for different children, but the concept is still the same. They’re not a baby, but they’re not a young adult yet either. They’re a kid! So what do you do to get your children brushing effectively?
1. Pre-brush Rinse. I’ve decided this is almost mandatory for children that aren’t brushing effectively. I’ll occasionally spend time with children doing some oral hygiene instruction, showing them the places they are missing and how to do a better job brushing, but just like adults, most children learn best by doing it themselves. Here’s how a pre-brush rinse works. Your child uses a special mouth rinse BEFORE brushing their teeth. It stains all of the plaque in their mouth pink or blue or whatever color you purchase. Now it’s time to get to work. Your child brushes off all of the areas with colored plaque. When they can see that all of the colored plaque is gone, they know they did an effective job brushing their teeth. I highly recommend a product like this. It can be found at most grocery stores or drug stores. Inspector Hector Plaque Detector is my favorite just because I like the name. It’s usually available at HEB.
2. An Electric Toothbrush. Everyone should be using an electric toothbrush that has teeth and wants to keep them. A Sonicare for Kids is a worthwhile investment that should last many years. Not only can it help your child do a better job brushing their teeth, it makes it fun. One of the most important features of the toothbrush is the built in timer that ensures your child brushes for two minutes. Without this timer, your child is probably just brushing until the taste of toothpaste is everywhere in their mouth, which is typically 30-45 seconds. Don’t let this happen! Sonicare makes great deals with dentists like me who buy and sell them in bulk, so we’re able to sell them to our patients for less than what it costs retail.
3. Be a Good Role Model. Brush your own teeth! Make your 3 or 6 month hygiene appointments an important part of your schedule, and don’t skip them. Your children pay attention to every last detail about what you do whether you like it or not and whether you know it or not. Excellent healthy habits start at home. There’s only so much we can reasonably accomplish in a dental appointment. Make sure your children see that you take care of your teeth and that oral hygiene is a priority in your family. They will notice.