28 Feb Quick Tips for Tooth Brushing
Did you know that February 28th (along with August 22nd) is National Tooth Fairy Day? I didn’t, but I am willing to celebrate any day that promotes good dental hygiene. Parents often ask me for advice with tooth brushing because children can sometimes be sensitive to the activity. Here are some quick tips to help.
Dentists recommend you start brushing teeth as soon as they appear. You can use a pea size amount of toothpaste at around 18 months. If your child doesn’t like the flavor, try using a brand that is more kid friendly and has fun flavors like strawberry. You can also search online for lots of homemade recipes that are easy, inexpensive, and use natural ingredients.
You can encourage your child to embrace this chore by involving them in choosing their toothbrush. Take him to the store and have him choose the one he likes the best. You can find a variety of special characters and styles online as well.
Some children dislike the activity if they don’t have good control of their tongues. Try practicing exercises to improve the movement of the tongue in the mouth. Demonstrate rotating the tongue to touch the tongue tip around different sections of the mouth including in front and behind teeth, on the roof of the mouth, around the lips, or along the inner lining in a circular motion. Be sure to laugh and enjoy making silly faces.
You can set the mood for a fun or relaxing time by using music. There are even tooth brushing songs on YouTube. Using a song is a good idea because they are around 2 minutes long, the recommended time to brush teeth.
Dentists typically recommend that children receive help with tooth brushing until around age 6 or 7. This is to ensure that they do it efficiently. So, if your child wants to be more independent, make it a shared activity that you can do together. Bring your toothbrush along and do it as well. You will be able to supervise but don’t need to provide physical assistance. It can be a great way to connect with your child in a couple minutes where you can prepare for the day ahead or the next.
I hope you find these quick tips helpful. Remember that children learn from watching others. The best way for you to get them to brush their teeth well is for them to see you doing it. Making activities seem fun and rewarding are great motivators for little ones. Give yourself a sticker for setting a great example! To learn more about other daily living skills, check out our post for shoelace tying.
Amy Baez, MOT, OTR/L
Amy Baez is the Founder of Playapy and Creator of the PALS Handwriting Program. She is a pediatric occupational therapist, speaker, and parent coach with over 18 years of experience. Learn more at www.amybaez.com.