When your child's teeth first come in, you should clean them with a
soft cloth or gauze pad. As more teeth come in, brush your child's teeth with a
soft brush. Because too much fluoride can be toxic and can stain a child's teeth, ask your doctor or dentist if it's okay to use fluoride toothpaste. At 3 or 4 years of age, your child should be
able to learn to brush on his or her own with your help. By 8 years of age,
your child will probably no longer need your help. It is important that your
child make brushing a habit, as this limits
tooth decay and helps prevent
Although some children quickly learn to brush their teeth, others do
not. If you are having trouble getting your child to brush, try some of the
My, what big teeth you have! Many children have a favorite stuffed animal. Use the animal to
explain why it is important to brush. Then, have your child brush the animal's
teeth after brushing his or her own teeth. This may also work with a favorite
doll or action figure.
Monkey see, monkey do. Brush your teeth together with your child and do it in stages. You
wet your brush, then your child wets his or her brush. You put toothpaste on
your brush, then your child does. You brush your left-hand lower teeth, then
your child takes a turn. Follow this pattern until you finish. You can make
this more fun by making silly faces or using funny brush strokes that your
child imitates. You can also switch roles and let your child lead the
Time is on my side. Many children
respond well to using an hourglass timer or an egg timer. Find a timer that
lasts for as long as you feel is necessary, and have your child brush until the
time is up. Humming a favorite song while brushing can also keep your child
Water fountain fun. Some
parents put in a "water fountain" type faucet. Many children think it's fun to
brush using one of these.
Sticks to a card, not your teeth. To reward
your child for doing well, make a form that he or she can put a sticker on
after brushing. Use a variety of stickers.
You can also involve your child in dental health by letting him or
her pick out a toothbrush and toothpaste. Talk to your dentist about the type
of toothbrush your child needs, and steer your child in that direction. When
choosing a toothpaste, stay clear of tartar-cleaning toothpastes, as they may
taste bad or "sting" a young child's mouth. Ask your child if he or she likes the toothpaste, and change it if
this is not the case.
Keep all fluoride products, such as toothpastes and mouthwashes, away from your child. Too much fluoride may be toxic and can stain a child's teeth. Also, teach your children to spit out the toothpaste and not swallow
Most importantly, set a good example. Children imitate their parents,
and if your child sees that you don't brush, don't seem to enjoy brushing, or
do it too quickly, he or she might well do the same.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.