Your child’s primary teeth, or baby teeth, are just as important to their health, speech development, and self-esteem as their permanent teeth. Some Elgin parents we meet at David A. Rice, DDS hold the misconception that the care of primary teeth is secondary to adult teeth, since they will eventually fall out.
The truth is that the twenty primary teeth lay the foundation for the health of adult teeth and a beautiful smile. Taking care of these teeth is very important!
A dislike for brushing is understandable. A parent takes a pokey bristly thing, smears some minty paste on it, puts it in their mouth and scrubs their teeth with it. No wonder it doesn’t appeal to some toddlers and children. Sometimes the battle grows to the point that parents want to give up the struggle until their child is older. Don’t!
If it is problematic to get your child to brush willingly, Dr. Rice has several suggestions.
If the toothpaste is the trouble, brush with a smaller amount or even without it, at first. The goal is to remove food particles that will lead to plaque and bacteria, eventually causing cavities. Toothpaste is not necessary for removing food particles. Fluoride is important, however. If your water is not fluoridated, talk to Dr. Rice about fluoride supplements.
Take your child to the store and have him or her decide on a new, soft-bristled toothbrush. Maybe buy two, so your child has some control in picking which toothbrush to use each time he or she brushes.
Let your child do the brushing, then check and brush the areas that might have been missed. Have your child with you when you and your spouse are brushing your teeth. Let your son or daughter know that everyone needs to brush and floss their teeth at least twice a day. Invite your child to look in the mirror and brush at the same time.
To develop the habit, keep the time short and slowly prolong the sessions. Brush heads are hard with bristles that poke. Toothpaste may seem “hot” to some kids. Teaching your child that brushing is non-negotiable is the vital first step. After it has become part of the routine, add time by singing songs or brushing your teeth at the same time. Some Illinois parents have had success with setting a timer.
Compliment your child on their terrific effort in taking care of themselves. Be sure to keep a positive attitude. Let your child know that you love their pleasing smile and want it to always be shiny white. Positive reinforcement and establishing a routine are vital parts of childhood dental brushing. We want children to be enthusiastic about a habit that will impact their health throughout their life.
If your child continues to struggle with brushing, you may think about sealants. Sealants are useful protective barriers applied to the biting surfaces of teeth. A sealant helps with preventing food particles from lodging in difficult places to brush – usually in the pits and grooves in the molars in the back of the mouth.