Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Great Little Smiles: Get your kids into the brushing habit.

Teaching our children the value of personal hygiene for the sake of their health may not be as high on the priority list as asking them not to stick beads up their noses. However, the daily, “Go brush your teeth!” battle cry is just as important. Winning that war will pay dividends in healthy mouths and bright smiles.

Developing proper oral hygiene habits in our children helps set the stage for good oral health throughout their lives. This helps to avoid many issues, including gum disease, cavities and tooth loss that plague people from all walks of life. Almost 50 percent of children under 12 years of age have some form of tooth decay, making it one of the most prevalent childhood diseases in America. All it takes is teaching them how to effectively brush twice a day, for two minutes, and they can achieve excellent dental health for a lifetime.

As soon as your child gets his or her first tooth, you should try to acclimate them to a brushing routine. Don’t get frustrated. Perseverance is key! Unless your child is destined to be the next dental prodigy, you’re bound to fail for awhile. Every kid is different, and what works for one may not work for the other. Getting my daughter to brush was a struggle, to say the least, but we found that a solid routine, every morning after breakfast and nighttime before bed, created that habit for her.

Some other great tips:

  • Set a timer or play their favorite song. If that song is not a full two minutes—play it again! Making tooth brushing fun and not stressful is imperative.
  • Brush with them! Monkey-see, monkey-do is crucial. Kids love to imitate their parents.
  • Find what works for you—but avoid the sweets.
  • Let them brush on their own, but always do a once-over yourself to make sure the job gets done properly.
  • Use a brush that is small enough to easily move around in the child’s mouth. Powered toothbrushes can be fun and give a better all-around clean. For kids under 3 years old, use a fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice. For kids over 3, dispense no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Make sure they spit out the toothpaste instead of swallowing it.
  • Check out plaque-disclosing tablets that stain plaque missed after brushing. It’s a colorful way to show your kids how to brush better!
  • If you’ve mastered brushing, try introducing floss. It will be a fun challenge for you both since most adults don’t even know their way around flossing.

Keep Smiling,

Dr. Sleuth

Our Tooth Sleuth, Dr. Josh Capozzi, does most of his sleuthing at Capozzi Dental in Etters. 

Visit Dr. C’s Facebook and comment with questions for him to answer in his next article.

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