A guide to teach kids how to brush their teeth.

A guide to teach kids how to brush their teeth.

If your toddler is old enough to ask for a toothbrush and toothpaste that comes in packaging featuring SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer or some other cartoon character, it’s time he or she learn how to brush their own teeth. So take them shopping, then hand over the supplies and teach them how to brush away the “yuckies."

Don’t overload

Despite what you see on commercials that show someone applying toothpaste across the entire length of the brush bristles, no one needs more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Show your child how to apply small amount of toothpaste so she won’t use too much.

Demonstrate

Stand behind your child with you both facing a mirror to give him the best view to watch you, whether he looks up or in the mirror. Tell your child to do exactly what you do. Then open your mouth and start brushing in tiny circular strokes. Let your child see you brush the front, sides, top, bottom and the back of your teeth. Encourage him to brush his tongue with a few gentle brush strokes.

Learn to spit

It may take a while for your toddler to learn how to spit the toothpaste where he aims. But it’s a habit he should begin early to purge the bacteria he brushed away. Show him how to rinse his mouth with water, then put his chin just beyond the rim of the sink before spitting it out in the bowl.

Establish a routine

It doesn’t matter if your kid starts brushing on the left side of her mouth, then moves right, before brushing the top and bottom teeth. Encourage her to do it the same way every time. The routine will help her remember to brush all of her teeth each time she does.

Take turns

Some days your toddler just isn’t going to want to brush. Or he may cut corners when he does. Strike a bargain. Let him brush his teeth in the morning, and you assist at night. Eventually, he’ll feel grown up enough to do it himself and you’ve made it a habit he won’t forget.

Don’t rush

Dentists advise everyone to brush at least two minutes, twice a day. To help time pass quickly, encourage your toddler to hum his favorite song while brushing. “Happy birthday” is a favorite of many dentists. Before he knows it, he’ll have finished the song and his teeth will be clean.

Sources: American Dental Association, Healthymouth.org, Dr. Matt Schapper, Colgate Oral and Dental Health Resource Center


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