Getting kids to learn and then stick to good dental habits has to be a joint effort between you and your child. Here are some suggestions to help show effective dental habits for your child from day 1:

  1. Some parents clean their baby’s gums with a wet dishcloth after every meal. This can help show the routine that will lead to brushing teeth when they start appearing.
  2. Babies first teeth can be brushed with a soft baby toothbrush and water or simply wiped with cotton swabs. At this age, they don’t need to use toothpaste.
  3. After age 3, or when you are confident that your child can spit out the toothpaste, you can start using a pea sized amount of toothpaste on your child’s toothbrush. Make sure the toothpaste you choose does not contain harsh flavorings that can sting young mouths.
  4. Help your child look forward to brushing by making the brushing habit fun. Allow them to choose their own toothbrush. There are great selections of good quality toothbrushes to choose from these days, many of which feature appealing cartoon characters.
  5. Introduce brushing to your children as a fun activity, perhaps allowing them to brush your teeth or a favorite doll’s teeth before tackling their own.
  6. Brush your child’s teeth for them until at least the age of 6, when they start developing the manual dexterity to begin brushing their own teeth. Even then, you may still want to do a last check once your child is finished brushing, just to make sure that all of their teeth have been cleaned properly.
  7. Finally, make sure you replace your child’s toothbrush every 3 to 4 months, or sooner if the bristles become frayed or if he or she has battled a recent cold or flu.

Once proper brushing techniques have been established, don’t forget about flossing! Flossing removes the plaque and debris that collect between the teeth and under the gum line, where the toothbrush can not reach. Start flossing as soon as your child has two adjacent teeth and work it into the expected nightly dental routine. The next time you are in the office, ask us to give you a demonstration on the best flossing techniques for your child, as well as tips to make flossing easier.

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