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father and daughter brushing their teeth looking at the mirror

Convincing your toddler to hold still while getting their teeth brushed is no simple task. However, teaching them the importance of excellent dental hygiene at an early age will help to keep their smile bright and healthy throughout their childhood. Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children ages 2-11, so establishing a regular brushing routine early-on is essential for their oral health.

Ensure that your tot’s teeth stay healthy by avoiding these common mistakes parents make while brushing their child’s teeth.

Using The Wrong Toothbrush

Using a soft-bristled toothbrush is critical for children. Their gums and teeth are not as strong as adult teeth, so anything other than a soft-bristled toothbrush can damage their gums and remove tooth enamel. Toothbrushes should also be replaced every three months, and also if your child gets sick, to prevent the spread of germs.

Not Brushing For Long Enough

Your child should be brushing their teeth for at least two full minutes, but no more than four minutes each time they brush. Many kids toothbrushes now have built-in timers, so your kids will know when it’s time to stop. Also, your children shouldn’t be brushing their teeth more than twice a day because anything over that amount is excessive and can quickly cause strain on the teeth and gums.

Poor Technique

Most people start brushing their teeth in the same spot, every time. Instead, make an effort of starting in different places when brushing both your teeth and your child’s teeth. Starting with a different tooth each time will ensure you are getting an even clean. Demonstrate proper brushing technique by making circular up and down motions when brushing to get rid of bacteria and food particles more effectively. Always think of massaging the teeth clean, rather than scrubbing.

Skipping the Gums and Tongue

The area where the tooth meets the gum tissue also needs to be cleaned. Most toothbrushes also have built-in tongue scrubbers on the backside of the bristles, so encourage your kids to brush every part of their mouth, and not just their teeth.

Rinsing with Water After Brushing

Rising your mouth out with water after you have brushed with a fluoride toothpaste renders the fluoride, making it less effective. Always make sure your child spits the toothpaste out after brushing. Not rinsing the mouth with water will give the fluoride more time to work, making it more effective. Instead of rinsing with water, let your children rinse with a mouthwash suitable for children that also contains fluoride.

Letting Them Brush Their Teeth On Their Own

Fine motor skills don’t become fully developed in children until they are at least eight years old. Letting your kids brush on their own before they are fundamentally ready is one of the most common mistakes parents make, and one of the top contributing factors to cavities in children. Ensure that your baby’s teeth are completely clean by making sure every surface of their mouth is adequately brushed. Brushing twice a day will help to prevent cavities and other dental issues.

Putting off Dental Visits

Parents often put off scheduling their children’s first visit to the dentist if their teeth are not yet in place. Ideally, a baby’s first dental appointment should come soon after their first birthday or when their first tooth erupts. A timely appointment with a dental professional is an educational experience for parents where they can learn about the basics of proper oral hygiene for their baby.

From putting off dental appointments to letting children brush their teeth unsupervised, each of these are mistakes that can lead to dental and orthodontic issues as your child ages. Baby teeth are no less important than the permanent ones that will soon take their place. Schedule your child’s bi-annual visit with Tompkins Dental to discuss other ways to keep their smile healthy.

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