It’s 7pm. You’ve barely survived the bewitching hour when the kids are overtired, cranky and can’t concentrate. Perfect. Now for one of the last battles of the day - getting them to brush their teeth. Dealing with the child who won’t open his mouth, or hates toothpaste and gags, or screams at the sight of a toothbrush. It can fill some parents with stress, dread and fear.
Good oral care habits from an early age is vital for your child’s development and ensure they have healthy teeth and gums into adulthood, but it can be challenging at times. That’s why we’ve put together some advice and tips on caring for your young children’s teeth below.
Why it’s important to form good brushing habits from a young age
It’s important to help your child form good brushing habits from a young age because those habits will help them to have and maintain healthy adult teeth. If the gums and teeth are not well cared for, this will affect the growth of adult teeth, potentially causing them to grow crookedly or in the wrong position.
Baby teeth need to stay healthy as they “save” the space for the adult teeth. Cavities can be painful and quite costly to fill in. Sometimes, if the hole is too big, the tooth may need to be removed. If baby teeth are removed too early, there will not be enough room for the adult teeth to come through and this can mean the hassle and expense of costly braces.
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10 tips to make it easier to brush kids teeth
1. Set a good example
Even before you brush your child’s teeth, brush your own teeth in front of your child. It helps to send the message that it is a normal and positive daily routine.
2. Make it a family activity
Children love to copy others. Both you and your partner could brush your teeth together with your child. If you’ve got older children, having them join in helps too.
Make the experience fun, reassuring and positive. Don’t threaten your child with brushing or that she’ll have to go to the dentist if she doesn’t brush. It will only make the visits to the dentist seem scary later on.
Don't forget to show your kids how you floss your teeth too. Here are some great tips on how to floss your teeth properly.
3. Play games and have fun
Have some fun while doing it, like hum, sing their favourite nursery rhymes, crack jokes, play music, dance, create foam and froth with the toothpaste. Make a game of it – who can hum their ABCs loudest whilst brushing? Let them hold and touch your toothbrush and have a go at brushing your teeth too.
4. Get in front of the mirror
Have your child looking in the mirror while you stand behind or beside him and brush his teeth or help them while you both look into the mirror. It’s much more interesting and entertaining this way.
5. Start at a convenient time
The first few times you brush together, make sure you’re in not in a hurry and your child isn’t too tired or cranky. You shouldn’t be too tired or cranky either.
Aim for two minutes of brushing.
6. Make toothpaste optional at the start or try different ones
When you are first teaching your child to brush their teeth, toothpaste may make them want to gag or spit. Or some kids might find even the taste of kids’ toothpaste too ‘spicy’. So if this is stopping your child from trying, try brushing without toothpaste, at least at the start. Then use a small amount of children’s low fluoride toothpaste to get them used to the flavour.
Look out for other toothpaste flavours that your child might like.
The rule of thumb is that you are supposed to brush your child’s teeth until the age of 7.
7. Let your child practice on their ‘friends’
Encourage your child to brush their favourite teddy or toy’s teeth. While they’re distracted, brushing the toy’s teeth, you can brush theirs, or say, “OK, let’s brush your teeth now”.
8. Introduce rewards
When our dentists visit pre-schools to look at kids’ teeth, they give the kids a show bag with goodies. And when young kids at Inspiro, they enjoy the stickers they get. You could try a reward system of stars or points every time they brush well.
9. Keep them focused with a clock
Our dentists recommend brushing for at least two minutes. A little hourglass can help kids to keep the time as the sand runs out. Or try using a mobile countdown timer and let your child choose their favourite sound.
10. Let them pick their toothbrush
When it’s time to change their toothbrush, let your child choose their toothbrush (it could be from a range you’ve shortlisted for them). There are many with cute characters or bright colours that make brushing more fun. It also gives your child something to look forward to and a sense of ownership.
Make sure the toothbrush has soft bristles and a head that fits well in your child’s mouth.
Getting kids used to visiting the dentist
Did you know that one in three preschoolers have never visited the dentist?
Getting kids used to visiting the dentist is an important part of oral health care. It helps to identify any oral health issues early so they can be treated. It also reduces fear and anxiety about going to the dentist, which can become a big problem when kids become adults.
Kids should have a dental check up by the time they turn two. Inspiro partners with the Yarra Ranges Maternal and Child Health Nurses to encourage parents to take their children to visit the dentist as part of the two-year-old check-ups.
A check-up every six months is generally recommended. However, everyone has different oral health needs and risk levels which determine how often they should have a check-up. For example, some kids may have less enamel on their teeth and need a bit more care with their oral health. Diagnosing teeth enamel problems in children at an early age is key to preventing serious teeth problems. Sometimes we see drastic situations like this: 11 holes in 20 teeth and only 4-years old.
So it’s important to talk with your dentist about how often your child needs a check-up and any special care that’s needed for their teeth.
Free dental for kids under 12
Inspiro offers free dental appointments for kids under the age of 12. There are no out of pocket expenses for children 12 years and under and children aged 2 – 17 who are eligible for the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS). This means parents do not need to make a private health insurance claim in these instances.
Quality dental care for the whole family
Inspiro provides quality, affordable dental care for the whole family. Our dental clinic has 6 chairs and a team of dentists, dental assistants and dental prosthetist (a specialist in assessing, making and fitting dentures). In 2017-2018 there were nearly 19,500 dental appointments at Inspiro.
Inspiro has very good quality of patient care results and in 2017-2018 continued to outperform public dental services in the region and the state in nearly all areas of patient care.
To book an appointment with a dentist, call 9028 0153.