Many parent struggle to brush their children’s teeth, as children will often fight the process or are less than willing to cooperate. Parents often need to be creative in their approach and technique so kids are more responsive to the dental care process. Teaching kids about dental health can be a fun and engaging experience. Pediatric dentist Michelle Kelman recommends incorporating videos and books into the educational aspect of brushing and dental health. Many popular children’s shows have videos and stories that highlight proper dental care and allow children to access the information in a fun and inventive way. Kelman also recommends incorporating games. The shadowing game involves the child first brushing mom or dad’s teeth, then mom or dad brushing the child’s teeth. Children can also have their teeth brushed in the bathtub as a more interactive experience. There are also songs and rhymes that can be easily incorporated. Additionally, the child can choose a fun toothbrush that they like based off of one of their favorite characters or interests, and that should help them be more excited about the process.
According to Dr. Gina Gonzalez, children are able to brush their teeth by themselves at age three or four. Even before that age, children should be encouraged to hold a toothbrush and gently use it in their mouth, but they are not generally able to brush all of their teeth correctly until age three or four. Even so, fine motor skills are still developing, and children are much better brushers by age six or seven. Therefore, although children should be empowered to do their own brushing by age three or four, there should also be parental guidance and assistance with brushing to ensure that proper cleaning is taking place.
Brushing and proper oral care is important for the dental health of children. Dr. Hessam Nowzari, periodontist and professor, reminds parents that many mothers throughout the world do not have access to a toothbrush and toothpaste, and that brushing a child’s teeth and gums with a clean finger and diluted salt water can help to prevent periodontal disease. The friction on the teeth and gums is a good first step in preventing these gum diseases.
Dental health for children is very important, both in modern countries with access to dental care, and those who are in more rural or poor areas. Dental care is important and parents should consult with a dentist and take advantage of all dental care opportunities in their area. Regular brushing is the best way to care for a child’s teeth and prevent tooth and gum diseases.