Profilo Dental Blog

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5 tips for teaching your kids to brush

The temptation of sugar is everywhere. Kids today have access to desserts, breakfast cereals, yoghurts, fruit juices and flavoured milks that are full of sugar.

Unfortunately, the change in diet to more processed, sugary foods has put Australian kids at a higher risk of tooth decay. 1 in 3 children aged between 5 to 6 years have decay in their deciduous teeth, whilst 4 in 10 children aged 12 to 14 years have decay in their permanent teeth*.

The health of your children’s teeth is vital, so it’s incredibly important that you encourage and assist your kid to follow a proper dental routine. These five tips will help reduce the chaos of a morning and nightly dental routine for your kids.

1.       Choose the right toothbrush and some tasty, low-sugar toothpaste.

From the moment your child gets their first tooth, it’s important to start a good morning and night dental routine. When your child is ready for a toothbrush, get them involved in choosing. With so many personalised toothbrushes available featuring some of the more popular childhood characters, there is sure to be something your kid will love. Just make sure you pick a soft, round-ended toothbrush with a small angled head for easy brushing.

With strawberry, bubble mint, orange, watermelon and other fruity flavours now available, encourage your child to choose a flavour of toothpaste that they will enjoy. Just make sure you check the sugar content on those toothpastes before purchasing, as children’s toothpaste will often have quite a high level of sugar to get that sweeter taste. Our dentists recommend a pea size amount of a fluoride-based toothpaste for your child’s morning and night time brush.

2.       Make it a fun experience.

Come up with creative ways to make the brushing experience more enjoyable, bacteria are having a party in your child’s mouth! Why should they have all the fun? Create names for your kid’s teeth and build a story about the ‘cavity monsters’ to help educate them about the benefits of brushing and to make the experience fun. It’s a well-known fact that children respond to music, so try changing the lyrics to their favourite songs to entice them to brush their teeth, or create a special new teeth brushing song altogether.

3.       Reward good behaviour.

Use clear and positive descriptions to explain why your kid’s teeth brushing behaviour is a good thing. Reward charts are a fantastic tool for changing and encouraging a child’s behaviour, so why not create one with stickers to mark the days that your child does a good job. At the end of the day or week, reward your child with extra play time or a treat, like a picnic in the park or visit to their favourite playground.

Children don't have the manual dexterity to brush their own teeth properly until age 8. To make sure they are getting the most out of their routine allow them to brush their teeth, but then go over the areas by standing behind your child whilst brushing their teeth in front of the mirror. It’s important that your child brushes their teeth morning and night, and the reward system will help take away some of the pushback and make the experience fun.

4.       Keep your child focused with a timer.

Once your child can brush their own teeth, use a sand or egg timer to keep them focused while they brush. Your kid should brush their teeth for two minutes both morning and night. Make sure you show your child how to brush in small, gentle, circular movements over the teeth and where the gum meets the tooth.

5.       Embrace technology.

There are a selection of phone and tablet apps available to assist your kids to brush and make the experience fun. Digital timers with fun characters, such as the Disney Magic Timer can keep your kids motivated throughout their routine. Games like Princess Dentist and Dentist Office invite your child to play dentist and see the process of keeping your chompers clean from another angle.

Remember to also set a good example by taking your child to their regular dental check-up and following a good dental hygiene routine yourself.

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For more tips on helping your kids to practice good dental hygiene, download our other blogs.

*National Child Oral Health Study.