Tooth Brushing for Children

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What do LED lights and hidden web cams have to do with getting your child to brush his teeth? In most cases, nothing. But, scientists at the National Taiwan University created an interactive video game that shows kids which areas they successfully managed to rid of plaque and debris — and which areas still need cleaning. Kids appear to do a better brushing job using this special toothbrush, but you can get your child to brush even without all the bells and whistles.


Train Your Child

Believe it or not, tooth brushing is a complex skill, especially if you are a preschooler. When you break it down, tooth brushing involves angling the toothbrush bristles correctly, using the proper brushing motion, cleaning the surface of the tooth and brushing long enough to do some good. A 1982 study published in the “Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis,” determined that children do a much better job of brushing their teeth after proper training. Prior to training, children got 8.6 percent of the tooth brushing steps correct; after training, they got 95.8 percent of the steps correct.

Caring for a Baby’s Teeth

You can begin caring for your child’s teeth as soon as she is born. Yes, she has teeth, but you just can’t see them yet. A baby’s teeth start to develop in the second trimester. After feeding, rub your finger or a wet washcloth over her gums. This rids any milk debris and bacteria. Once your baby’s teeth start to emerge, you can clean them with gauze or a child’s toothbrush.

Preschoolers

When your child is 2 years old, start using toothpaste with fluoride to help fight cavities. Be careful your child doesn’t swallow too much fluoride because that could cause white spots on the permanent teeth when they come in. Only use a pea-size amount of toothpaste, and teach him to rinse well and to spit everything out. Brush your child’s teeth for him until he is around 6 years old.

Older Kids

When your child is 6 years old, she can start brushing her own teeth, but you should supervise her for a while to make sure she is doing it right. Don’t let her use more than the pea-sized amount of toothpaste and make sure she is brushing thoroughly by brushing all of her teeth, twice a day for at least two minutes each time. Teach your child to hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gum line. Have her brush downward and gently on all the outside and inside surfaces. Next, have her clean the chewing surfaces of the teeth with short strokes, making sure to get inside the crevices.

Flossing

Besides brushing, your child should floss once a day to remove particles between the teeth. Have him bring the floss between two teeth and curve the floss in a “C” shape around one tooth. Tell him to slide the floss up and down, and repeat this procedure for every tooth.

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