How to brush teeth for kids: A comprehensive guide
For children under the age of seven, enforcing dental care can be hard. Most children therefore need supervision in eating, bathing, tying their shoelaces, wearing their clothes, and of course brushing their teeth. Many new parents are often confused on the right time to start cleaning their children’s teeth. How to brush teeth for kids has become a source of concern for most parents.
“You can start to clean your baby’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears,” says Dr Nonye Abam, a dentist at Federal Medical Center in Afikpo. “Clean your newborn’s teeth both before breakfast and after dinner. It pays to teach your child good oral hygiene as early as possible.”
But this is where the problem starts for some parents. Cleaning your child’s teeth is one thing, cleaning the teeth the proper way is an entirely different matter.
To make your job easier, we have drawn up a comprehensive list of tips to help you improve your child’s hygiene.
When your baby’s teeth first start to appear, do not be in a hurry to start using a toothbrush. Start with a soft cloth and warm water. Moisten the cloth and gently clean the teeth and the tongue. Wait for a few weeks or months, or wait for more teeth to appear before you purchase a toothbrush.
“The ideal age for introducing a toothbrush is age two. Start earlier and you run a risk of wounding the baby’s gums,” says Dr Nonye Abam.
Babies’ teeth and gums are soft and tender. Hard bristles can cause bleeding, inflammation and injury. Therefore, it is imperative that you use only baby’s brushes.
“Don’t be in a hurry to start using toothpastes,” says Dr Nonye Abam. “If the child teeths early (and has a healthy eating habit), toothpastes can be introduced between 18 months and 2 years.”
When you finally decide to introduce toothpaste, make sure it’s only a small amount. Most toothpaste ingredients are safe when swallowed in small quantities. However, they pose health risks when ingested in large amounts.
“Minimize the risk of swallowing large amounts of toothpaste, by using only a small amounts,” says Dr Nonye Abam. “A pea-sized squirt from the tube is ideal.”
For adults, rinsing our mouth after brushing our teeth is a necessary part of the brushing process. For kids however, rinsing should be out of it. This is to minimize the risk of the children swallowing more toothpaste than they ordinarily would have.
Many experts recommend that the best position when learning how to brush teeth for kids is as follows: have them turn their backs to you. You can also accomplish this position by allowing them sit on your lap while facing away from you. This gives you access to their teeth when they tilt their head backwards against your body.
6. Position the toothbrush well
Apart from your position while brushing your child’s teeth, another trick to note when learning how to brush teeth for kids, is the position of the brush.
“The brush should be positioned towards the gum while moving the brush in gentle cyclic motion,” says Dr Nonye Abam.
7. Show them examples
The truth is that you will not help your children to brush their teeth forever. At a certain age, they will gain their independence and rely on what they have learnt so far from you.
Kids are renowned for imitating adults, especially their parents. So if you are wondering how to brush teeth for kids, use the imitating prowess of children to your full advantage. Therefore, brush your teeth together as a family, allowing them to see the proper movement and techniques.
8. Brush twice a day
For most kids, brushing their teeth can be a big chore. They just want to get over with it and face some other things they consider more important.
“For my five-year old daughter, ten seconds is her maximum time for brushing her teeth when unsupervised. It is therefore the parent’s duty to make sure that their children not only brush morning and night, but that they do it for not less than two to three minutes as recommended by the Nigerian Dental Association,” says Dr Nonye Abam.
A final word on how to brush teeth for kids
Take your children’s oral hygiene seriously. Use the right tools and supplies. Adopt the right positions. Go for routine dental check-ups, and your children will have healthy teeth.