Teaching your kids to brush

Written by Dr Amrita Jain

October 21, 2020

Every parent wants their kids to have good oral hygiene, but sometimes teaching your kids to brush and following the ideal dental care routine for children could be challenging. This is because kids find brushing their teeth to be boring, annoying, or even painful. But patience is the key.

Teaching your kids the correct way to brush their teeth from an early age can save both kids and parents a lot of grief. Here are some tips for teaching your kids to brush 

Teaching your kids to brush with the right technique

Kids usually have a habit of brushing their teeth right-left in horizontal direction. But this is not the right way to brush. Brushing horizontally could have damaging effects on their teeth. Make your kids stand in front of the mirror and ask them to draw big circles with their toothbrush in front of their mouth. This activity will help them get a better idea of how they should brush their teeth inside the mouth. Once they practice this ask them to brush their teeth in a circular motion.

Teach them to brush the teeth that are behind and the insides of the teeth as well. Kids usually brush the teeth that they can see in the front and fail to brush the teeth that are behind. That’s where and when their behind teeth start to form cavities.

How your kids brush is as important as how many times they brush. A toothbrush is to be kept at a 45° angle to your teeth while brushing. Use small circular motion for the frontal surfaces and gentle sweeping strokes for the teeth that are behind.

Routine

Making children understand brushing their teeth is a normal hygiene activity and everyone does it. Make them understand its a part of the daily routine and that they don’t really have an option to skip it. Children will always find ways to get rid of this activity if you don’t make it sound its important. So as parents, it’s you who have to make them understand the importance of brushing their teeth twice daily.

Start early

It’s never too early to start. You can start brushing your kid’s teeth as soon as their first tooth appears. You need not use a toothpaste at this age. Just using the brush to clean the surfaces suffice at this time. Brushing their teeth regularly from an early age gets them used to it and reduces their fear or resistance to brushing. So catch them young. 

Supervise

2-4 years of age is the time when kids want to do everything on their own. They pretend they don’t need your supervision and don’t want prefer being watched upon. But supervising your child while brushing his/her teeth is very important to make sure they’re doing a good job and no areas are left behind to clean.

Make it fun

If your kids find it boring to brush every day, turn the activity into a game. Tell them they are destroying the ‘teeth germies’ or ‘sugar monster’. Play their favorite song, video, or even make up a brushing song. The list is endless, so get a little creative in getting them to brush. As the kids enjoy music you can also make tooth brushing fun by making it musical, just play in their favorite music.

Set a good example

Kids learn a lot of things by ignoring what you say and observing what you do. So make sure you brush twice a day for two minutes and floss regularly to encourage your kids to follow the suit.  It is even better if you brush with them so that they carefully observe you and do the same. So make tooth brushing a family affair, so they know its importance.

Reward them

Rewarding good brushing behavior will encourage your kids to brush regularly. Reward them if they’re consistent in brushing their teeth. Tell them they have done a good job. Give them things like their favorite stickers, or allowing them to watch their favorite cartoons, or anything that they like, to keep them motivated. Avoid giving chocolates, ice cream, or cola as a reward as that will negate the tooth brushing.

Introducing them to dental technology

Kids are always fascinated with technology and always want to try new things. You could try the new motorized (electric) toothbrushes, water jet flosses for kids, which keeps them interested and motivated. You could download various tooth brushing apps, tooth brushing games and to do lists for dental hygiene for kids to keep them interested and always curious.

Let them pick their favorite toothbrush

Most kids have a favorite color or character. So allow your kids to pick out their own brush in their preferred color or character. This is to get them excited to brush their teeth. Allowing them to choose a toothpaste in their favorite flavor will make brushing more enjoyable for them. Letting them pick their dental aids will make them look forward to brushing their teeth and cut down your efforts.

Patience is the key

A little patience on your end will go a long way in making sure your kids have a good oral hygiene routine. Understanding that kids are not going to get it right till the age of 5 and they are going to need supervision and training. You can even ask your dentist to help you teach your kids to brush. It’s not difficult to teach your kids to brush, but don’t forget to follow it yourself.

Highlights

  • Teaching your kids to brush is not difficult, all you need to do it strategize.
  • Making it fun for children is the way to go about it.
  • Rewarding them and introducing them to new dental technologies will keep them interested, so don’t miss out on this.
  • Patience is the key to teaching your kids to brush. Understand they are not going to get it right till the age of 5.
  • Supervising while brushing is a must till the age of 5.

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1 Comment

  1. Sam Brown

    Thank you so much for this amazing article that you have shared with us, indeed the tips that you have shared with us are quite unique and amazing will surely try implementing it and also share it with other friends and family as well for their reference.

    Reply

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Dr. Amrita Jain is a practicing dental surgeon since 4 years. She completed her B.D.S in 2016 and was has been a rank holder throughout her course. She suggests “Holistic dentistry is the best dentistry”. Her treatment line follows a conservative pattern which means saving a tooth is of utmost priority and preventing your teeth from getting decayed rather than curing it with a root canal treatment. She inculcates the same while consulting her patients. Apart from her interest in clinical practice, she has developed interest in research and writing over a period of time. She states “It is my clinical experience that motivates me to write and spread dental awareness”. Her articles are well researched with a combination of technical knowledge and clinical experience.
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