Parents of young children have a lot to do in the mornings and at night. Getting children dressed, fed, and out the door to school in the mornings and into pajamas, with a story read, and to bed at night can seem like a never-ending task. However, it’s critical that along with all the other items on the must-do checklist, parents remember that brushing and flossing are critical to their child’s oral health.

It can be challenging to teach toddlers and preschool-aged children the proper brushing technique, but Dr. Dean Dietrich offers a few tips and items for consideration:

  • Start early. As with most habits, the younger you introduce the activity the easier it will be to make it a lasting habit. You can begin brushing your child’s teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush as soon as the first tooth erupts. Prior to that, parents should wipe the baby’s gums with a washcloth to remove bacteria and food particles.
  • Make it fun. Let the child pick out his toothbrush and use a flavor of toothpaste that he likes. Tell the child you’re searching for “sugar bugs” as you brush his teeth. Or make a game out of brushing or sing songs while you brush the teeth. Singing the alphabet song two times is the approximate length of time that brushing properly should take.
  • Set a good example. Parents know that their children are always watching their actions and behavior. There’s no exception when it comes to oral health care. Children who see their parents brushing and flossing are more likely to accept and imitate the habit.
  • Let the child try. At some point the child who never wanted to have his teeth brushed will likely fight you for the toothbrush. Go ahead and let him try. Just be sure to take your turn brushing his teeth as well until you know for certain that he’s mastered the technique.
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Children’s teeth are susceptible to cavities and gum decay just like adult teeth. Even though baby teeth aren’t permanent it’s important to keep them healthy and teach your child that oral health care is critical. For more information about oral health care and children, call Dr. Dean Dietrich of Pleasant Dental. He has been helping patients in the Dolton, IL, region keep their family’s oral health in check for many years.

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