For many parents, it sometimes feels like pulling teeth just to convince their young kids to brush theirs, which can lead to frustrations all around. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most recent survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics revealed that nearly a quarter of children between two and five years of age experienced some degree of tooth decay, or early childhood caries, in their primary teeth. If you have a baby and are dreading his or her resistance to the efforts of dental care, try these approaches to coax him or her to take care of her teeth to reduce the risk for cavities.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends bringing your infant to a dentist for an oral examination as soon as the first tooth erupts or by the time he or she reaches his or her first birthday. As soon as your infant's first tooth erupts, begin practicing oral health care by brushing his or her teeth with a fluoridated toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head. Use only a smear of toothpaste on the toothbrush head until your child is two years of age. By starting to brush your child's teeth at such a young age, he or she is more likely to accept this practice as a normal part of the daily routine, which will be helpful when the time comes for your toddler to brush his or her own teeth.
You have probably observed that when it comes to many of your activities and mannerisms, your toddler is your biggest fan as he or she tries to mimic your behaviors. Use this to your advantage when teaching your child to brush his or her teeth by brushing your teeth together. Try the following techniques to engage your child:
- Kneel down to his or her level to emphasize that you are performing this activity together.
- Show your child how to brush by first letting him or her watch you as you brush your own teeth.
- Allow your child to hold your toothbrush and gently brush your teeth while you do the same for him or her, and then encourage him or her to brush her own teeth as you brush yours.
- Remember that more is merrier, so allow other family members to join in and brush their teeth as well. Seeing the whole family enthusiastically brushing their teeth together, and likely chuckling about it, will make this seem like a fun activity that your child will want to take part in.
- If all else fails, engage your child in a conversation while he or she brushes to give him or her something to focus on, and before he or she realizes it, the teeth are brushed.
When you start to teach your child to brush his or her own teeth, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush, teach him or her to spit out the toothpaste instead of swallowing it, and always supervise to ensure that the job gets done.
Always purchase dental care products as recommended by your child's dentist. As you keep that caveat in mind, however, involve your child in choosing his or her products. Allow your child to choose a favorite flavor of toothpaste and a toothbrush in a favorite color. Many children's dental care products are embellished with images of cartoon characters or trending children's film and television show themes. Choosing their own dental care products to suit their personal tastes and interests can make kids more enthusiastic to put these products to use.
Compliment and Reward
When your child breezes through a positive dental appointment, be sure to lavish praise and compliment his or her efforts in taking care of his or her teeth. Young children want to please their parents and feel that they have done well. The compliments will make them feel proud of their achievements and make them feel like big boys and girls. You can maintain their motivation by stopping at the store on the way home to let them select new dental care supplies, and you may even choose to reward their stellar dental examination results with the offering of a new inexpensive toy.
The damage of tooth decay leads to cavities, more dental costs and negative impacts on overall health. Limiting your child's sugar intake, following a schedule of routine dental examinations as recommended by your child's dentist and encouraging your child to practice oral hygiene at home will go a long way to preventing tooth decay and keeping his or her pearly whites sparkling through years of smiles and giggles. For more information, contact companies like Tots to Teens Dental.