How to teach your child to brush his teeth

Getting kids to brush their teeth for two minutes, two times a day, can be a challenge. But teaching them to take care of their teeth can help instill a lifetime of healthy habits. It may help to encourage your child that tooth brushing is fun and helps fight the bad guys — like sticky plaque. There are a lot of videos, games and apps online to make brushing more fun. Try letting your child pick out his own toothbrush and toothpaste.

After all, there are a lot of child-sized toothbrushes with soft bristles, in favorite colors and cartoon characters. Fluoride toothpastes come in a variety of flavors, colors, and some even have sparkles. Just look for toothbrushes and toothpaste with the ADA Seal of Acceptance to be sure that they do what they say. Start to brush your child’s teeth as soon as they appear. For children younger than three, use a child-size toothbrush and just a small amount of fluoride toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice. When your child is between the ages of three and six, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.

To begin brushing, place the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to his gums and gently move the brush back and forth in short tooth wide strokes. Brush the outer surfaces, the inner surfaces and the chewing surfaces of the teeth. To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth tilt the brush vertically and make several up and down strokes. Once you are comfortable with letting him brush on his own, usually around the age of six, supervise that he is using the right amount of toothpaste and spitting it out. To help keep your child focused while brushing, set a timer… play a favorite song or video for two minutes. Make a reward chart and add a sticker for every time he brushes for two minutes two times a day.

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