Creating Routines: Tooth Brushing!
(2021 • 09 • 30)
We all know the agony of toothache. So how can you create a habit of good dental care in your children?
If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you’ll know all about the importance of the early years. According to the Harvard Center on the Developing Child, the majority of our habitual patterns are developed by the age of 5, and this, of course, applies to our dental hygiene!
But teaching your little ones to brush their teeth isn’t just an important habit - it’s vital for their future dental health, too. Having a healthy set of gnashers in the childhood not only helps your child to chew naturally and learn to speak clearly; they also aid the normal growth of the jaws. Essentially, primary teeth are a blueprint for adult teeth - so we need to look after them!
However, you may have also experienced some resistance to brushing. Whether they find it uncomfortable or simply get bored brushing for a full two minutes, many children hate brushing their teeth, and will do anything to get out of it. So, today, let’s take a look at the expert advice on tooth-brushing for children and babies, as well as some tips for setting it up as a fun routine!
How to Keep Little Teeth Clean
- Start Young
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), it’s a great idea to start cleaning your little one’s mouth at bathtime, even before they have teeth! By using a soft cloth or infant toothbrush, you can not only reduce the presence of nasty bacteria, but also prepare your little one for the daily routine of cleaning their teeth.
- Brush from the Very First Tooth
The moment your little one gets their first tooth, you should start brushing it. Once they have two teeth that touch, you can even start flossing! Good dental hygiene begins early!
- Know Your Toothpaste
Fluoride is key. Make sure you’re using a toothpaste with a minimum of 1,000ppm of fluoride - check the label! Up until the age of three, you only need to use a tiny smear on your little one’s toothbrush. After that, up it to a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
- Two Times Two
Both the NHS and the AAPD recommend brushing twice a day, once immediately before bed, and once at another time during the day that fits into your schedule. At first, there won’t be much to brush, but once your little one has nearly a full set of teeth, you want to aim to be brushing for two minutes each time - this helps to ensure they’re properly cleaned!
With babies and toddlers, sit them on your knee and tilt their head back to brush their teeth. As they get older, they can start doing it more by themselves, but always keep an eye to make sure they’re doing it correctly and not swallowing toothpaste. Then, finish brushing for them - just to make sure every tooth is clean! You’ll need to continue this until they are able to brush well on their own - usually until at least age 7.
- Don’t Forget the Tongue!
The majority of bacteria in the mouth actually live on the tongue, which acts like a sponge to soak them all up! While this won’t cause tongue cavities, these bacteria do spread, and will find their way back to your little one’s teeth.
Mouthwash can make a tongue taste minty fresh, but it isn’t enough - remember to brush your little one’s tongue every time you brush their teeth, too!
- Use Teaching Aids
It’s important that children learn how to brush their own teeth properly. Use a mirror, so they can see how each part of their mouth is brushed, and try guiding their hand while they brush their own teeth, so they can get a feel for it. You can also encourage them to practice on a doll or teddy - after all, good dental hygiene is important for everyone!
- Show Them How It’s Done.
One of the best ways for little ones to learn is to copy their grown up. I’m sure you’re an expert tooth-brusher, so make sure they see you doing your thing!
How to Create a Tooth Brushing Routine
- Be Consistent
Step one to creating any new routine is to do it every day, no matter what. We know that exhaustion, tantrums, long days and life in general can get in the way, but try to stick to brushing your little one’s teeth at the same times every day.
- Brush Together
Not only will seeing you brush your teeth help your little one to learn; brushing together can encourage them to want to stick to the routine.
- Celebrate Independence
When your child is getting a little more confident in their tooth-brushing skills, why not ask them to show you how it’s done! This can be a great way of cheering them on, encouraging their independence, and making them want to brush their teeth.
Visual rewards can work a charm. If your little one doesn’t like brushing their teeth, stickers can be added to a chart every time they do so for two minutes. Or, if they need to work on a specific aspect of brushing their teeth, such as cleaning their tongue or gums, award a sticker every time they remember to do so.
- Try a Sand Timer
Sand timers create a tangible way of seeing time pass. To a small child, two minutes can feel like a never-ending age, but providing a visual guide can help the time fly by faster.
- Make it FUN!
Invent a game, sing a song, or play music! Brushing your teeth is a necessity, but it doesn’t need to be boring; it can be a dance party instead!
There are also a plethora of apps you can use to not only make brushing fun, but teach good brushing technique, too. Here are a few of our favourites:
- Brush DJ
Created by the NHS, this app plays two minutes of the music on your phone to turn dental hygiene into a bathroom disco. It also has short videos on how to brush and floss!
- Disney Magic Timer
If your little one is a Disney fan, this one is a must. While brushing, players clean away bubbles to reveal a mystery Disney character! It even has an inbuilt sticker chart.
- Aquafresh Brush Time
This one is great for building routine: it uses a catchy song to not only keep brushing fun, but teach children how to brush their teeth, section by section.
- Pokémon Smile
The favourite in my house (even with my partner!), this app gives the player the opportunity to go Pokémon catching with their buddy (squirtle, bulbasaur or charmander). Each time they play, they get to clean up, reveal and catch one of the original 151 Pokémon, how well they brush their teeth affecting their likelihood of catching it. This one also uses your phone or tablet’s selfie mode, so your little one can see themselves brushing, a visual guide to follow, tooth-brushing tips, and earnable rewards, such as medals and hats.
- Brush DJ
So, I hope you found some handy tips to get your teeth into! If you have any questions, want to share your little one’s tooth-brushing journey, or have a topic you’d like to hear more about, drop us a message via our Instagram.
Content Creator at MEplace