By Dr. Shakila Angadi
With school starting in a few weeks, the time of buckling back to routines and getting ready for the new year is upon us. It is a great time to introduce new tips and ideas to remind our kids to brush and to keep their teeth clean.
For babies, we recommend a smear of fluoridated toothpaste at the first tooth, and a pea-sized amount for most kids after that. Toothpaste should never be longer than the length of the bristles on the appropriate brush.
Brushing twice a day helps to maintain and strengthen those new baby teeth, as well as the permanent teeth. Brushing at night is the most important time, so daily meals and snacks cleaned out. Bacteria in the mouth can incubate and multiply at night so this nightly routine should not be missed!
Early dental visits have also been shown to establish healthy hygiene practices and reduce dental anxiety. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry encourages the first visit at 6 months after the first tooth, or at 1 years old, whichever comes first. The experience of being in the dental office, seeing and meeting faces and making those early visits fun, is key for positive dental experiences.
As a mother, I know how hard it is to motivate the young ones, especially when they would rather do many other things other than brush. The key I have found is simple in concept: MAKE IT FUN! If it is treated like a chore, it will be. If it is fun and exciting, it becomes something they look forward to doing!!
Here is a list of ideas that can help!
-Make brushing a game. Encourage your child to brush like their favorite action hero, or animation they are into. My son loves brushing like Thomas the train and knows to brush the "caboose" teeth in the back!
-Experiment with toothpaste flavors. Lets be honest, some kids just don't like mint. Switch it up with strawberry or bubblegum and let your child pick a flavor. Remember to use a non-abrasive toothpaste (no grittiness) with fluoride to maximize the benefit.
-Use a different brush/floss. Sometimes, even the change in the color can motivate some kids. For some,it is a spinbrush(but make sure they are keeping it "high" enough on the gums to not miss a spot!). Kids flossers are a helpful tool, or using flavored flosses can also help. Remember to "curve" around those baby teeth to get all of the days food out of there!
-Use music! Who said brushing had to be quiet? There are so many brushing videos on YouTube. We used the Little Baby Bum video "This is the way we brush our teeth", which my son loves.
-Downloading a brushing app! There are so many and many of them have a timer, technique and fun animations like Disney Magic Timer.
-Using a tool like Mighty Molarman can help. Molarman is a plush toy from the Molar in the Mirror kit that motivates young kids with a visual and a story to make brushing fun and exciting. My son loves to "show" Molarman how clean his teeth are, and how he is brushing himself- he is proud to do it!! Check out our Facebook page for a giveaway starting very soon!!
Try some of these tips if brushing is a challenge in your home. If you still have concerns, don't be afraid to ask your friendly hygienist or dentist for tips and techniques that can help. Also feel free to reach out to us via social media for any questions you may have! Happy brushing!