Part 2 of the Keep It Simple Series (KISS) offers dental care guidelines for busy mums and dads who are ready for the brushing teeth routine with their children. Cheryl Ann Roberts, Dental Nurse Practitioner of Cheerful Children Family Dental Practice in Trinidad offers advice.
Nobody really likes anyone poking in his/her mouth. So, don’t get overwhelmed when your child kicks up a fuss when it’s time for brushing teeth. It may not go perfectly all the time but that’s okay. Below is a checklist to make this routine a little more pleasant for both parent and child.
A grown-up brush designed to help kids build better habits.
11 Tips to make the brushing teeth routine more pleasant
1. Wipe baby’s mouth after feeds
Remember that a baby’s mouth should be gently wiped with a clean soft cloth and clean water after feeds (even before teeth appear).
2. Let children see family members brushing teeth
Allow children to see you and other family members brushing teeth. Children must realise that toothbrushing is just another part of daily routine, much like bathing or eating.
3. Clean baby’s teeth as they peep through gums
Begin cleaning all surfaces of baby’s teeth with a clean soft cloth and water as soon as you see them peeping through the gums.
4. Brush teeth at night
Always brush before bedtime at nights.
5. Use soft, colourful, character-themed brushes
Use a soft-bristled small toothbrush once the child can tolerate it. Colourful and character-themed brushes encourage kids to want to brush.
6. Place right amount of fluoride toothpaste for children
Use a rice grain size of age-appropriate fluoride toothpaste for children under three years old. Place a pea sized amount of age-appropriate fluoride toothpaste for older ones.
7. Choose a comfortable position
Get in a position that is comfortable for both you and the child. No one position is correct. You can put your child to lay or sit on the bed, sit on your lap or stand in front of a mirror. You can also allow your son or daughter to stand in front of you with the back of their head leaning on you.
8. Brush all surfaces of teeth
Gently support the head with your chin. All surfaces of teeth must be brushed, that is, the outer surface, inner surface and chewing surface.
9. Make circles and brush in a back-and-forth motion
Begin making small circles on the inner and outer surfaces until all teeth are brushed. To brush the chewing or top surfaces, place the bristles on top of the flat surfaces and brush in a scrubbing or back and forth motion.
10. Brush the tongue in circular manner
Gently brush the tongue in a circular manner. Allow your child to spit. Try to take about 2 minutes when brushing the teeth.
11. Floss between your child’s teeth
Dental floss is used to remove plaque and food which are between the teeth and under the gums. You can gently floss your child’s teeth from age two to three. Flossing at nights just before bedtime is fine.
Make up a song for brushing teeth time using the melody from a popular nursery rhyme to encourage your child to cooperate. Check the Facebook page Cheerful Children Family Dental Practice for examples of this and for more information.
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