One of the most important health lessons you can give your child is about their oral hygiene. Teaching kids about the importance of a healthy mouth can protect them from issues with their gums and teeth later in their lives.

Brushing teeth is something everyone has to learn when they’re young. Explain that it is absolutely necessary to brush their teeth twice per day, once in the morning after breakfast and then again at night before bed.

Children must brush at least two minutes each time. Show your child exactly how they should hold the toothbrush, at a 45 degree angle against the gum line. Brush from the base of the tooth by the gum to the end of the tooth where you bite. Brushing should be done using short, round strokes for the front and back teeth and with short, sweeping strokes for the chewing portions of the teeth. The tongue’s surface should also be brushed to remove food residue.

Children must use a good fluoride toothpaste. Manufacturers make all kinds of kid-friendly dentifrices featuring popular movie and television characters and other features kids like. Yes, they’re gimmicky, but if your child finds it attractive, it’s a good encouragement to use it, so let your child choose the toothpaste, or bring a different kind home as a surprise – whichever works better.

The toothbrush should be child-sized, with a small head and handle, and the bristles should be soft. Never choose a brush with hard bristles, because they can damage the teeth and gums. The toothbrush should be replaced three or four times per year. You can tell when it’s time to change the toothbrush by noticing when the bristles are bent. Some brushes have specially colored bristles, with the color designed to fade when they’ve reached the end of their useful life. Like toothpastes, toothbrushes are available with popular media characters, special handle shapes and other kid-friendly features.

You will pay more for a Frozen or a Ninja Turtles toothbrush or toothpaste. But if they reduce conflict over brushing, they’re well worth it, in our opinion.

Although most children don’t use dental floss, it’s a good idea to start your kids using it as soon as their teeth are close enough together so that the bristles of a toothbrush no longer fit between them. Flossing should be done before bedtime, either just before or just after brushing. Demonstrate how to properly hold the floss by pinching it between your thumb and index finger and how to insert the floss between the teeth, and have your child repeat after you.

Through repetition, instill in your child the understanding that oral hygiene is an important part of their health. When they start properly caring for their teeth at a young age, they can prevent dental problems later on.

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Lane Avenue Family Dentistry provides comprehensive dental health services for children and adults in Jacksonville. Contact us.