Establishing good oral hygiene habits is the best way to help your child avoid unwanted toothaches, emergencies, and cavities in their teeth. Our pediatric dentist in Vista offers the following brushing (and flossing) tips so your kids’ first dental appointment will be fun and prevention-based, rather than associated with uncomfortable decay.
(1) Brush Your Teeth Together
Make toothbrushing a family affair. Our kids dentist in Vista sees that families who brush together tend to brush longer, instead of rushing through the process. You might even consider seeing who can brush the longest; once you brush your own teeth for two minutes, your child will have “won” if they’re still brushing.
Allow your child to mirror your movements, making small circular strokes on one tooth at a time. Gradually work your way around all of the outsides of the teeth, then the insides, then the chewing surfaces.
Side note: Pediatric dental experts also agree that teeth need to be flossed a minimum of once per day. At this age, using disposable flossers tends to be the most convenient. Allow your child to try flossing on their own, then help them clean the sides of each tooth.
(2) Take Your Time (Literally)
Every time your child brushes their teeth, they should be brushing for two minutes at a time. Our pediatric dentist in Vista recommends investing in a small timer or a toothbrush with one built-in. But another great option is to use your child’s favorite song and play it while you’re brushing teeth. Most songs last at least two and a half minutes (or longer) providing more than enough time to adequately brush teeth.
(3) Play “Dentist” at Home
One of the best ways to learn to brush and floss properly (and to make your kid’s first dental appointment a breeze) is to play “dentist” at home. Choose your child’s favorite stuffed animal and “brush” around their mouth making small circles. Or consider taking turns laying each other’s heads in your laps and brush each other’s teeth. That way once your child visits our pediatric dentist in Vista, everything feels like second nature.
(4) Involve Your Child When Choosing a Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Pediatric dental experts agree that children need to use an age-appropriate toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste. As long as the toothbrush is sized correctly, you can get your child more excited about brushing when they play a role in choosing their toothbrush. The same can be said with toothpaste. Make sure it’s fluoridated, but allow your child to voice a preference when it comes to flavors or characters. Doing so can help them feel more inclined to use these products at home.
(5) Always Follow Up Behind Them
Until your child can tie their own shoes, they lack the dexterity they need to efficiently clean their teeth on their own. As you encourage their independence and self-care, continue to follow up behind them to make sure everything is getting clean. Before bedtime is most important, to make sure they’re going to sleep with clean teeth.
By assisting your child with their oral hygiene, you can give them a head start on avoiding childhood’s most common disease: tooth decay. When they have the advantage of prevention, they’ll be on the path to a healthy smile for life.
If it’s difficult to brush your child’s teeth without them biting down, consider keeping an extra toothbrush on hand. Use the handle of the toothbrush as a prop on one side of your child’s mouth while you brush the other.
Kids Dentist Vista
Looking for a kids dentist? Vista families trust Dr. Houri to provide gentle, quality care for their children. Contact our pediatric dentist in Vista today to schedule your kids’ first dental appointment!