Brushing and flossing in toddlers is as important as it is for adults. Most parents assume that the teeth are temporary and hence as such no specific dental care or routine may be needed. If you are also in such a category, you are mistaken.
Neglecting dental hygiene can cause long term problems in kids that could affect their confidence, eating habits and thus the overall health.In fact, dental problems in kids are quite common and many doctors feel that all that is required is just little care about eating habits and brushing routine.
It is an agreeable fact that most toddlers become fussy when it comes to brushing and flossing. While some kids end up ‘eating’ toothpaste (yes, literally!!), some kids never show interest in brushing at all. It all varies from kid to kid.Though this task is tricky, it is not impossible though.
This post will give you some tips as to how to get your toddler to brush and floss in an interesting way.
Be a Role Model
Children learn from parents – yes, they observe every action of yours and mimic it. Once you start taking care of your teeth, they will observe that and follow the same. Make you toddler observe how you brush and floss, and start once they are okay with your way.
Make them your brushing buddies, both in the morning and at bed time. Stand in front of your mirror and show them how to do this. Encourage them to do the same and appreciate them when they do it. And they will never think of brushing as a boring task. After all, which kid doesn’t love the company of a mother?
Divert Their Attention
If you force your toddler to brush, they will definitely form an aversion to it. Instead divert their attention.
You can do this by giving them option to choose their toothbrush. Have 2-3 kids’ toothbrushes handy and give them a choice which they want to choose for that day. By doing this, their attention is diverted to the choice of brush rather than on the task of brushing.
Similarly, ask them if they want mother or father to be with them during their brushing. They will forget about brushing and start thinking which of you both would make a lovely company for them!
Toddlers love to ape their sisters and brothers. If you have more children, take the help of elder kids to encourage the toddlers in brushing. You can make this a fun family activity too. This would strengthen the relation between them and toddlers would just love this!
Form a brushing routing. Like how you read a book during the bed time for your baby, choose a song or rhyme that links brushing and make this a melody all the time they brush their teeth. Don’t be surprised if they dance during brushing as you sing the rhyme or the song!
What is more interesting to kids than a colourful role play? Hand over a toy tooth brush to your toddler and ask them to brush their dolls’ tooth. Encourage them and cheer them up during the play. They will understand that there is something good in this and will not nag next time when you call them for brushing.
You can also show them books, images, videos and animations that are related to teeth, gums and the process of brushing and the germs being kicked away after the brushing, etc. In this way, they understand about brushing in a better way.
Play with Flavours
Make brushing colourful. Choose different colour toothbrushes and different flavoured or coloured tooth pastes. Give them achoice to choose which colour they have in their mind.
Remember, whichever paste or flavour you choose, toddlers do not need more than a rice-grain size of toothpaste.
To introduce brushing to your toddler, you need not wait till they get their teeth in full. You can start massaging their gums softly as soon as they are introduced to their solid food. This will help to improve the blood circulation to their gums. Besides kids will also be habituated to that ’some’ task that is being done on their gums.
How to do Brushing for Toddlers
Remember that toddlers’ jaws and teeth are very delicate. Hence choose brushes specifically designed for their age. Ensure that they are clean and soft before you put them in their mouth.
- Brush the teeth very softly at an angle 45 degrees.
- Clean all the teeth when you brush.
- Use clean water to clean their mouths during and after the brushing.
- Use only very small amount of toothpaste, even though you have chosen a kid friendly toothpaste.
- Brush twice a day, early in the morning and before going to the bed.
- Keep toothpaste out of your toddler’s reach. It may be fun for them to eat it, but it is never healthy.
- Pick a specifically designed electric toothbrush and let your toddler enjoy the feeling.
- Some kids prefer to brush on their own, while other may allow parents to brush their teeth till 5-6 years. Whatever is the case, just count your baby’s comfort and health of their teeth and gums.
- Gain expert advice. You can get ample information on the brushes, tooth paste and other dental hygiene tools on expert websites such as DentalDorks.
- Talk to other parents. Find out how they are managing their kids with brushing and take tips from them. Remember, experience counts!
How to do Flossing for Toddlers
- Toddlers may feel flossing uncomfortable. Hence you need some patience to teach them this.
- Flossing, once a day, would suffice for a toddler.
- It is suggested that a parent does the flossing instead of leaving the task to the toddler.
- Choose flavoured floss to raise interest in flossing for your toddler.
- Teach them slowly how to make C shape and fit the floss appropriately between the teeth and floss.
- Pick from many child flosses available and prefer the ones that are use and throw type.
- If you have any doubts, consult your paediatrician first, take their advice and start with flossing.
Many parents might have confusion when to start brushing their kids’ teeth. Some doctors feel that the appearance of around 6 teeth can be a good time for introducing brushing to your toddler; while some other opine that till 3 years brushing may not be mandatory.
Remember, it is all comfort and dental hygiene of your baby. Take doctor’s suggestions and as a parent take a decision as per your toddler’s dental hygiene need and comfort. Follow the tips shared here and see your baby’s beautiful teeth when they shower that lovely and innocent smile!
Author: Peter Mayhew
Peter is a dental hygienist in the city of Chicago, IL. In his free time he likes to write blogs and product reviews on anything dental health related.