Instilling good tooth brushing habits in your toddler is one of the keys to a lifetime of optimal dental health. Oral health is something that starts in infancy and must be maintained every day of a person’s life, as failure to keep up with dental health leads to a slew of problems. Such problems include gingivitis, gum disease, and bone loss. There’s also increasing evidence that oral health problems are linked to heart problems.
Let’s look at a few tips for helping your toddler develop good oral health habits:
Brushing Your Toddler’s Teeth
Brush your toddler’s teeth to help him or her learn the correct method. Use small, circular motions on teeth with different sides of your child’s toothbrush. Start with back teeth and move to the front. Clean the gum margins very carefully, and be patient about teaching your toddler to spit out the toothpaste. This could take some time, and it’s okay. Use gentle strokes to clean the child’s tongue, and be sure to rinse the toothbrush with water after every stroke to avoid simply moving bacteria around the tongue. Rinse the toothbrush and store it in an upright position away from other toothbrushes as well as the toilet. Toothbrushes stored near toilets are subject to spray every time the porcelain throne is flushed.
Helping Reluctant Brushers
Help your toddler learn that tooth brushing is a vital part of health and not something to avoid. Do this by brushing your teeth in front of the youngling to set a good example. Make certain you brush for the recommended two minute period. Get your partner to brush with you…have it as a family affair! Toddlers love doing “big kid” things with their parents. If you need further help, try singing while you brush or using a toothbrush “song” from Sesame Street. There’s an Elmo video on the kids section of the American Dental Association website that’s all about brushing teeth for two minutes.
Other tips for dealing with reluctant tooth brushers include purchasing fun, colorful toothbrushes featuring favorite cartoon characters. Remind your toddler to brush before bed, and do so several times if necessary. Create a sticker chart for every “good brush” and use a rewards system if needed, such as 10 extra minutes of playtime on Fridays.
Use the above tips to create oral health-conscious kids who take brushing seriously. You’ll be so glad you did!