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How to Brush Teeth With Kids

Sheila has worked as a parent educator for eight years. She has also been an elementary school teacher and a children's author.

I remember the struggles of trying to get my sons to brush their teeth before going to bed, especially when they were tired after a long hard day. Letting them play around with the toothbrush was followed by my own feeble attempts to brush the back teeth, while they protested loudly. I had to learn patience and how to distract them or somehow make the experience a little more fun.

Kids' Toothbrushes Can Be Fun

Do you struggle to get your kids to brush their teeth? Maybe like me, you know the importance of getting the process going while they are small and yet find the task daunting, to say the least. Some kids may be eager to brush to be more like us, the grown-ups, but sometimes a child may resist all the way.

The timing of the task can be key. If you focus on brushing teeth before the child becomes overly tired, you will have an easier job. One of my sons, however, connected eating dinner to going to sleep and so would fall asleep into his supper dish, no matter how early I fed him!

Sometimes changing just a little thing can transform something like brushing your teeth from a chore to a fun activity. Your toothbrush can be your friend!

Children can enjoy brushing their teeth more if they are brushing with a toothbrush that has the shining face of a favorite book, T.V., or cartoon character helping them do the job. You can feel good, too, knowing you are helping your child develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime, preserving that smile you so love to see!

And remember, kids' toothbrushes need to be changed every three months or whenever your child has recovered from a cold, flu, or another sickness. You may want to keep a couple of extra toothbrushes around so you are not worried about your child being reinfected with germs during this cold/flu season. (It's not always convenient to get to the store to grab a new one in the midst of a blizzard or an ice storm!)

Kids' toothbrushes make great stocking gifts, too!

Good Dental Hygiene Starts Young

Developing the Brushing Habit

Many children resist brushing their teeth or having you do the job for them. Yet good dental hygiene matters and begins at a young age.

Even babies can have tooth decay, especially when they are allowed to drink milk or juice from a bottle. Many doctors recommend wiping a baby's gums and new teeth with a cloth after feeding.

Parents need to help toddlers and preschoolers finish their brushing job until around the age of seven when their manual dexterity allows them to complete the job themselves, reaching those back molars and getting at all the tooth surfaces.

Electric toothbrushes can help kids accomplish this job. Some kids, however, will hate the sound and the vibrations of the electronic kind. Other kids may find it a really cool experience!

For Teething Babies

Baby Banana Infant Training Toothbrush and Teether

What about little ones who are just teething? Here is a bendable toothbrush made of food-grade silicone that is safe and easy to hold. A child will enjoy the banana look and will also be safer with something less rigid than an ordinary toothbrush. This banana brush will soothe the gums as well as brush new little teeth and, because of the design, will not choke a baby. It can be cleaned in the dishwasher and can be put into the freezer, too. The design was inspired by a dental hygienist.

I have seen little ones use these toothbrushes and can say that they are interesting to hold and can be helpful for a baby struggling with new little teeth popping through. The fact that you can put them in the freezer makes them helpful to soothe the gums of a baby fussy from teething pain. And because you can also put them in the dishwasher, they are easy to disinfect.

Do Kids Need to Floss?

Even the cutest toothbrush or the most effective one cannot clean all the surfaces of your child's teeth. Flossing is something that may be a challenging skill for a child to accomplish, but it is an important skill to introduce early.

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There's a sign posted on my dentist's wall that says, "You don't have to floss all your teeth, only the ones that you want to keep." Although a parent of a young child may think this advice is only geared towards an older patient, a child's teeth are no less precious, nor are they immune from developing a cavity or two.

Learning how to floss is all about developing good dental hygiene habits. If you start flossing while young, you will continue doing it as you get older as it will be perceived as the normal thing to do, like washing your face or getting dressed. Kids may not do a great flossing job at first, but they will get better at it as they practice.

Good hygiene habits start young. However, flossing can be difficult to manage for a younger child. Glide floss picks, or a similar product, are easier to hold and can be helpful starting out to develop the habit of flossing once a day.

You can easily find the plain ones or you can go with the brightly colored ones that come with animal shapes.

Do superheroes brush their teeth?

Do superheroes brush their teeth?

Do Superheroes Brush Their Teeth?

You bet they do! Germs are bad guys wanting to eat holes in your teeth. You may need a superhero's help to fight those germs off.

There are several superhero options to choose from. Most likely there's a toothbrush with your child's favorite superhero on it. You can find a Spiderman toothbrush, a Batman toothbrush, a Wonder Woman toothbrush, a Superman toothbrush: the list goes on.

Get serious about banishing germs from your mouth. And those little bits of food loitering in the mouth and between the teeth? Send them packing!

Teeth-brushing Song! - Raffi's Song "Brush Your Teeth" Is a Favourite with Many Kids

Music to Brush Your Teeth By

When I wake up in the morning and it's quarter to one

I like to have a little fun

I brush my teeth

Ch-ch-ch-ch Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch!

I brush my teeth

Ch-ch-ch-ch Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch!

Do you know Raffi's brushing teeth song? When my kids were little, we used to sing along to the brushing teeth song on Raffi's record Singable Songs for the Very Young.

A brushing teeth session should be about 2 1/2 minutes in order to do a good job of cleaning your teeth. It's hard to get kids to brush for that long. But if you have a song to sing while you're brushing, you just may be able to handle it!

Bedtime Routine

Bedtime routine is important!

Bedtime routine is important!

Kids' Toothbrushes - Have Some on Hand for Replacements or for Sleepover Visitors

If you can find a toothbrush with your child's favorite character on it, your child may look forward to brushing teeth. Having a few extra on hand is a good idea and can save a lot of headaches. If someone comes for a sleepover and forgets his or her toothbrush, you will be prepared. Fun toothbrushes can be slipped into birthday gifts or goodie bags or given out at Halloween with the candy. A Christmas stocking wouldn't be complete at our house without a new brush stuffed inside.

Suction Cups Help Toothbrushes Stand Up

If you want help keeping toothbrushes from lying on the counter or sink where they can pick up extra germs, a suction-cup bottom may help. Kids love being able to stand up their toothbrushes all by themselves.

Begin Young

Like any good hygiene habit, the earlier you introduce brushing teeth after eating, the more likely it will become a lifelong habit. It's best to hold off putting pressure on a child and make the habit something that is a matter of fact and as natural and expected as swallowing after chewing.

It's just something we do.

When you as the parent approach dental hygiene in a positive way and with a spirit of fun, brushing will become something the child looks forward to and actually enjoys. Brush together. You are his most important model for good behaviour.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Sheilamarie

Please Add Your Comments on Brushing Teeth With Your Kids

Bartukas on March 20, 2013:


Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on September 05, 2012:

I think a cute toothbrush encourages children to brush their teeth. We keep several extras around at all times.

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