A child’s baby teeth are just as important to their health and well-being as their permanent teeth. Yet some of the parents who come in to OKC Smiles in Oklahoma City think the care of baby teeth is secondary to adult teeth, since they will eventually fall out.
They could not be more wrong! The truth is that baby teeth, or primary teeth, lay the foundation for the health of adult teeth. Taking care of them is very important!
A dislike for brushing is understandable. A parent takes a pokey bristly thing, smears some minty paste on it, puts it in their mouth and scrubs their teeth with it. No wonder it doesn’t appeal to some toddlers and children. Sometimes the battle grows to the point that parents want to give up the struggle until their child is older. Don’t!
If it is problematic to get your child to brush willingly, we have several suggestions.
If the toothpaste is the trouble, brush with a smaller amount or even without it, at first. The goal is to remove food particles that will lead to plaque and bacteria, eventually causing cavities. Toothpaste is not required for removing food particles. Fluoride is important, however. If your water is not fluoridated, talk to us about fluoride supplements.
Take your child to the store and have him or her choose a new, soft-bristled toothbrush. Maybe buy two, so your child has some control in picking which toothbrush to use each time he or she brushes.
Let your child do the brushing, then review and brush the areas that might have been missed. Have your child with you when you and your spouse are brushing your teeth. Let your son or daughter know that everyone needs to brush and floss their teeth at least twice a day. Invite your child to look in the mirror and brush at the same time.
To develop the habit, keep the time short and slowly lengthen the sessions. Brush heads are hard with bristles that poke. Toothpaste may seem “hot” to some kids. Teaching your child that brushing is non-negotiable is the critical first step. After it has become part of the routine, add time by singing songs or brushing your teeth at the same time. Some Oklahoma parents have had success with setting a timer.
Compliment your child on their effort in taking care of themselves. Be sure to preserve a positive attitude. Let your child know that you love their beautiful smile and want it to always be shiny white. Positive reinforcement and establishing a routine are important parts of childhood dental brushing. We want children to be dedicated to a habit that will affect their health throughout their life.
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