The bedtime routine can be difficult enough without the teary trials of teeth brushing. Every mother wants her children to grow up with a happy healthy smile and the best way to ensure that happens is by getting them into good habits from the get-go. We spoke to Dr Flora Chigwedere, founder and principal dentist at the Covent Garden Dental Spa, to find out the best tips on how to brush baby teeth effectively.
Getting your children ready for bed is never an easy task and brushing their teeth can sometimes seem like the ultimate hurdle.
Up to around the age of seven, children are usually dependent on their parents cleaning their teeth for them so it’s important mums and dads brush up on all the best tips to help give their little ones a healthy smile.
New research by Aquafresh revealed that parents spend at least three days a year trying to get their kids to brush their teeth, with a staggering two thirds admitting that they don’t know how to look after their teeth properly.
More than 27% of parents don’t think they need to start brushing until their little one has between two and five teeth, when in fact, toothbrushing should start as soon as the very first tooth makes an appearance, which is usually between five to seven months.
Tina adds: “Milk teeth have 50% thinner enamel than adult teeth, so it’s key that mums and dads start brushing their child’s teeth regularly from the minute they come through, even if it’s just the one tooth. This will not only give their children the best possible oral healthcare start, but also get them into a good routine.”
Regular dentist appointments will also help normalise the idea of caring for their own teeth, NHS dental appointments are free for children so next time you’re due a check-up take your little ones along too.
Whether they’ve just got their first tooth through or they’re flashing all their little gnashers, it’s good to read up on the dental details so you know you’re doing a good job.
Flora Chigwedere has covered all areas from when you should start brushing baby teeth to which toothbrush to buy and how much toothpaste to apply. It’s not as simple as brush and go!
Here’s how to avoid the teeth-brushing battle come AM or PM:
Make brushing teeth fun time
Admittedly, brushing your teeth isn’t the best feeling in the world so any opportunity to divert the fuss of foaming toothpaste and achey gums is a must.
“Try playing a certain fun song which they will always associate with brushing their teeth. ‘This is the way we brush our teeth, brush our teeth, brush our teeth, early in the morning’. Counting teeth always helps to focus their attention on something different and develop their counting skills.”
Dentist Tina Tanna adds: “Brushing doesn’t have to be a chore and can be made fun. Get your little one familiar with the sensation of a toothbrush by giving them a brush to play with, or bring their favourite toy into the bathroom and brush their teeth too.”
Going it alone
“Allow them to brush by themselves after the age of seven. You will have to brush their teeth for them during the early years but when they’re ready allow them to get used to the idea of caring for their own teeth by having a play after you have done the proper brushing.”
Talk it through
“While brushing, talk them through what you’re doing. ‘Now we’ll brush the back one. Then we’ll brush the front ones. And we won’t forget to clean behind’. This contributes to a more methodical approach to brushing.”
Kid’s toothpaste comes in all kinds of tasty flavours to make teeth brushing as appealing as possible, but make sure your child is brushing as well as tasting!
“If they’re brushing their own teeth put a very small dash of toothpaste, otherwise all you will see is them sucking the toothpaste off the brush. Then when it’s your turn to brush for them after, apply the correct amount of toothpaste – a pea size is advised.”
Use a fun toothbrush
When it comes to kids it’s all about making the dullest of activities seem like an adventure so why not invest in an under the sea inspired toothbrush or a sparkly princess toothbrush holder to make them look forward to brushing. You can even get bendy banana toothbrushes for toddler training!
Flora says: “My favourite is the Rockabilly Kids toothbrush. It combines fun colours with a wobbly shape – perfect for keeping the little ones amused as well as experimenting with texture and shapes.”
Most children will light up at the thought of strawberry flavoured anything so associating their favourite tastes with teeth brushing could be the approach that works for you.
“Try different flavoured toothpastes to make it fun for them. Talk to them about the colour and flavour when brushing and perhaps other foods that have the same taste (strawberry jam, yoghurt, fruit). This helps your child to build up positive associations with brushing their teeth.”
There’s all kinds of fun flavours available on the market now including watermelon and bubblegum.