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Pediatric Dental Hygiene Should Start Early

By Lucy Wydham

Teach Kids From an Early Age to Take Care of their Teeth

Taking care of our teeth isn’t a skill that comes naturally to most. That means it’s up to us as parents to introduce our children to habits that will encourage lifelong dental hygiene. Children may not be particularly eager to spend time brushing their teeth now, but you can be sure that they’ll appreciate their dental health in twenty years or so. There are a couple of things that parents can do to help children pick up healthy brushing habits.

Go Over the Basics

For the first couple years of a child’s life, parents are typically the ones brushing the child’s teeth. During this time, it’s crucial to stress the hows and mostly the whys of brushing to a child, including the importance of maintaining a twice-daily routine. Children can be taught the proper way to hold a toothbrush and how to scrub each tooth carefully using short, round strokes for at least two minutes in total. Kids should also gently brush their tongue and the roof of their mouth.

Show and Tell

There are few better ways to teach a kid new habits than to set a good example and for parents to demonstrate the skills. Help a child to establish a routine by brushing your teeth alongside them each day and showing them proper technique. If you aren’t able to brush your teeth at the same time as your child for any reason, it’s a good idea to make sure that they are aware when you do brush. Make a point to let them see you brushing twice each day to impress the fact that dental hygiene isn’t a chore, but a responsibility.

Don’t Forget Flossing

Many parents gloss over the finer points of flossing, in part because many may not floss regularly themselves. There’s no better time to add flossing to your brushing routine than when teaching a child how to care for their own teeth properly. Start showing children how to floss as soon as their teeth are too close together to fit brush bristles in between them.

Make Things Fun

As a child, brushing teeth each day can be a bore. There are countless ways that parents can make it more of an event, adding a fun twist to morning and nighttime dental hygiene rituals:

  • Let kids pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Use music to time the brushing sessions
  • Reward good brushing efforts with small tokens such as stickers
  • Get the whole family involved

It’s important that parents teach their children how to brush and floss well at a young age so that they can grow healthy, strong teeth as they develop. With a little bit of encouragement, you can make sure that your kids practice good dental habits well into adulthood.


COPA offers pediatricians in Bend and Redmond, Oregon

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