by Lucy Wyndham
As soon as the milk teeth start to erupt, they need to be looked after and brushed daily; the first tooth often emerges at 6 months, but some babies are born with a tooth or two. Some parents are of the attitude that baby teeth aren’t important because another set will grow later in childhood. This is far from the case, baby teeth are extremely important. If they are not properly looked after your child may have difficulty chewing and also speaking clearly. They also provide a framework for the adult teeth to grow. Over 40% of children have cavities in their baby teeth. At this essential time in young children’s lives, in terms of learning, milk teeth need to be looked after. Brushing teeth is an a grown up’s responsibilty, until they are 6 or 7, when they start brushing their own teeth.
Copying teeth brushing
Children learn by watching and copying. If you want to demonstrate the correct way to brush your children’s teeth, brush your own teeth at the same time. Show them how to brush each surface, including the backs of teeth and molars. It is also a good idea to get your children to brush your own teeth; they will find this really amusing, although expect to have toothpaste around your mouth afterwards. You should supervise them brushing their teeth until they can rinse out their mouths and spit independently. This is normally between 6 and 7 years of age.
Reward charts for effective brushing
Usually, young children respond well to dental reward charts and bribery. Set up a monthly chart and reward a sticker for every day that your children’s teeth are brushed. At the end of the month offer them a small prize, perhaps a certificate showing that they are outstanding at brushing their teeth. It is good to positively reward a child for brushing their teeth and they will feel proud in doing so. Teeth should be brushed twice a day and it needs to be part of their regular morning and evening routine. If you give them a mirror to look in, they will be able to see where to brush and how to move the toothbrush in the right motion.
Watch appropriate videos and read stories about tooth brushing
Many cartoon characters have videos online about brushing your teeth and having good dental hygiene. There are also some wonderful songs that can encourage your child to brush their teeth. Children love music and singing songs whilst brushing helps make it interesting. It is important to make this everyday task fun, so that it doesn’t feel like a chore. You can also purchase toothbrushes that flash for two minutes, helping children to brush their teeth for a good amount of time.
Encouraging your children to brush their teeth is so important. Daily positive reinforcement will help them to develop good habits as they grow to adulthood. Don’t forget that once their first couple of teeth have started to emerge, it is a good idea to book them in for their first dental check up.