Your child’s primary teeth, or baby teeth, are just as critical to their health, speech development, and self-esteem as their permanent teeth. Yet some of the parents we meet at Cornwall Dental Arts hold the notion that primary teeth aren’t all that important, since they will eventually fall out.
The truth is that the twenty primary teeth lay the foundation for the health of adult teeth and a beautiful smile. Taking care of these teeth is very important!
A dislike of brushing is common, and 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 difficult to get your child to brush willingly, we have several suggestions.
If the toothpaste is the problem, 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 tooth decay. Toothpaste is not needed 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 to select a new, soft-bristled toothbrush. Maybe buy two, so your child has some control in picking which one to use each time he or she brushes.
Let your child do the brushing, then check and brush the areas that might have been missed. Have your child with you when you brush your own teeth. Let your son or daughter know that everyone needs to brush and floss 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 extend them. Brush heads are hard with bristles that poke. Toothpaste may seem “hot” to some little ones. Teaching your child that brushing is non-negotiable is the important first step. After it has become part of the routine, add time by singing songs or brushing your teeth at the same time. Some parents have had success with setting a timer.
Compliment your child on their wonderful effort in taking care of themselves. Be sure to keep a positive attitude. Let your child know that you love their attractive smile and want it to always be shiny white. Positive reinforcement and establishing a routine are essential parts of childhood dental brushing. We want children to be dedicated to a habit that will impact their health throughout their life.
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