Plaque is a sticky yellow substance that traps bacteria against the teeth. The bacteria eventually starts to eat away at the tooth surface and create cavities. Brushing and flossing teeth regularly are the keys to reducing the amount of plaque. Parents carry the most responsibility for their children’s teeth, here are some tips for teaching your children how to get their teeth clean.
Babies 0-3 Years
Every child gets their teeth at different points, but the tips for tooth care is the same. Once the teeth erupt, make sure you are wiping down your baby’s gums and teeth. You don’t need fancy tools, just use a clean washcloth to help remove the bacteria that builds up from milk and foods.
Start flossing when two teeth touch. Special floss is unnecessary, but many parents prefer using flossers because they are smaller and easier to navigate between teeth.
Once teeth are more present, use a fluoride-free training toothpaste and a very small toothbrush. These tools are perfect for starting proper techniques. Bring them in for professional cleanings to get them used to the process. No serious cleaning goes on, but it helps kids not fear the dental chair. Getting your child in a habit of taking care of their teeth lays a great foundation for the rest of their life.
Kids 4-7 Years
Children in this age range are ready to be independent, but their motor skills just don’t allow it yet. To encourage those desires, there are a couple of different tactics you can use:
- Let them brush on their own for the morning brushing while you take over the night time cleaning.
- Allow your child to brush their teeth, then “check” them by going over the teeth again.
Either tactic will encourage your child to keep brushing. Anything that help them stay excited about proper dental care will motivate them to keep going.
Flossing is very important. During these years, kids are losing their first teeth and the adult ones rarely grow in straight. It’s important to floss well and make sure any overlapping teeth are cleaned right. Using mouthwash is fine during this range, but make sure your child can thoroughly spit it out. As they are able, teach them to swish it too.
Ages 8- 18
Around the age of 8, kids can handle flossing and brushing on their own. The most important thing you can do as the parent is make sure they are doing it. Set the routine and then encourage the habits through reminders.
At the earlier end of this range, take time to emphasize flossing in each space. Show them the proper technique of going all the way down until they hit their gums and moving side to side to thoroughly get food out.
When teaching brushing techniques, show how to brush the whole tooth by going down to the gums and brushing there too. If you think it will be helpful, get a timer, app, or clock in the bathroom so they know how long to brush. It can also help to buy spinning toothbrushes to make it a little easier.
If you find that you are having trouble with teaching your kids proper techniques, give our office a call. We are always happy to help educate and have models on hand to help give a visual teaching. Most importantly, keep going and your kids will pick up good habits to fighting plaque and cavities.