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How To Create a Healthy Nighttime Routine For Your Kids

The battle of tooth brushing and oral hygiene is one every parent faces. Teaching your kids the importance of caring for their teeth and gums is part of the learning process all parents and children go through. Regular tooth brushing and flossing require guidance, discipline, and a nightly routine to obtain healthy teeth. 

Having an established bedtime routine makes it easier for children to predict and know what to expect every night. When it comes to a child's development, predictability equals stability. These tips will help you create a healthy and drama-free bedtime routine for your family. 

Brush, Book, Bed: By the American Academy of Pediatrics 

Instilling proper oral health care in very young children starts by having them brush their teeth before bed. This small nightly ritual will be a helpful building block towards a lifetime of a healthy mouth. The brush, book, bed program created by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has a simple and clear message for parents:

  1. Help your children to brush their teeth each night
  2. Reward them by reading books together
  3. Go to bed at a regular time each night 

Predictable nighttime routines help children understand and learn what to expect and what comes next. Regardless of your child's age, the key is to have a predictable series of steps that help them unwind from the day. Routines are proven to ease the stress that some families experience at night when bedtime comes around. 

All Children Need Help With Brushing

All young children need help with brushing their teeth from an adult to ensure a good job is done. When possible, teach children to spit out extra toothpaste to avoid swallowing excessive amounts of fluoride. The little bit of toothpaste left behind in the mouth is good for the teeth, so don't rinse with water after brushing. Once teeth touch, they can also benefit from nightly flossing. 

When To Start Good Oral Health Practices

Your child should have their first dental cleaning and exam by their first birthday, or sooner if there are any concerns over their teeth' development. Regular visits to the dentist will help to establish another type of routine and to get your child comfortable with having their teeth cleaned and examined. Your pediatrician can help to answer specific questions about your child's oral health, too. 


Good oral health practices can start almost immediately after a baby is born. Use a soft, warm washcloth to wipe your baby's gums after feedings if possible. Never put babies to bed with a bottle filled with milk. When it's time to introduce solid foods, choose healthy foods that reduce the risk of tooth decay. 

For Children Under 3

Teeth brushing can start as soon as you see that first tooth pop through the gums in your baby's mouth. For toddlers, a smear of toothpaste the size of a grain of rice can be used to help clean the surfaces of their teeth. 

For Children Over 3

A pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste is safe to use while brushing twice a day. Always let your child practice brushing with the toothbrush themselves, so long as you get a turn to clean their teeth too. 

It's Never Too Early To Create Routines 

After toothbrushing is the ideal time to cozy up with your child and read together each night. Spending time reading books (even just 15 minutes a day!) will help to improve your child's language development and social-emotional skills. It's never too early to establish a healthy bedtime routine for your kids. For questions about the brush, book, and bed method, contact Tompkins Dental.

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