Most parents don’t realize that baby teeth are important in guiding adult teeth into their proper place. If baby teeth are lost prematurely due to deterioration or infection, this can profoundly affect the adult teeth. Not to mention decaying baby teeth are painful for children and can lead to speech problems and other medical issues. That’s why Dr. Cobb, your Overland Park pediatric dentist, encourages you to teach your child proper tooth brushing techniques early on in order to prevent future problems with tooth decay. Here are a few tips to get your started:
Start early – Even before you see the first few pearly whites breaking through your child’s gum line, you can start practicing good oral hygiene. Use a damp washcloth or a moistened infant toothbrush after feedings. This will give them good practice opening their mouth for you and give them some relief from teething pressure. Once they have their first tooth, you can get them into a home routine of brushing with a toothbrush. Flossing can start as soon as there are two teeth present together. Try flossing with floss sticks if floss alone is cumbersome.
Cover the basics – If your child is old enough, you can talk about holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gum line but you can also simply talk about the up-and-down motion of the toothbrush, as well as the circular motions that are so beneficial. Remind your child to brush the whole tooth – inner surface and outer surface. Children tend to forget the teeth in the back as well as the front, so teach them to open wide! And, don’t forget the tongue. Not only is this good dental hygiene, but children tend to love this oral healthcare step!
Frequency and Duration – Children love routines. Teach your child to brush their teeth in the morning after they wake up and at night before bedtime. Even if they don’t have that many teeth to begin with, get them in the habit of brushing for the full two minutes. It will take at least that long in the beginning, since they only have a couple teeth. But, by the time they start to get the hang of it, they will have even more teeth to brush! Your Overland Park pediatric dentist has noticed that an egg timer, a song, or even the timer on your mobile phone is a great way for children to learn how long to brush.
Remember: teaching your child to brush their own teeth is a process that won’t happen overnight. Children don’t have the fine motor skills to brush alone and will need to be supervised until they are at least 8 years of age. But, investing the time and energy into proper brushing techniques will give your child the gift of good oral hygiene for years to come.
This article is brought to you by Dr. Cobb The Kid’s Dentist, your friendly Overland Park pediatric dentist and provider of comprehensive, high-quality pediatric dental care. If you wish to make an appointment for a dental cleaning or evaluation, feel free to contact the office of Dr. David J. Cobb.