Having just returned from the dentist with my two little ones, I realized how far we have come since they were babies in the whole teeth brushing/dentist-visiting department. So I jotted down these 5 Tips For Fuss-Free, Healthy Teeth in your kids. I have been relying on these for years!
When my first daughter was born, I was so stressed trying to figure everything out that honestly, I laughed when her pediatrician said we needed to be brushing her teeth…What?! I need to take care of that gummy mouth that only has breast milk touch it?!
But she wasn’t joking and as I read more about it myself, the reasoning was legitimate. Even though we can’t see them, all of your child’s teeth are hiding just below the surface of those little pink gums (baby and adult teeth!). So when we neglect those gums, it allows bacterial growth to set up which can actually damage the teeth below the surface.
The same holds true for taking care of baby teeth. When I was little, my mom never brushed my teeth. I remember vividly brushing and flossing my teeth for our dentist appointment and that was about it. Because back then, doctors either didn’t really understand how pediatric dental care could impact you life long or they just didn’t really promote it to parents.
Compounding this lack of awareness for early dental care was my own genetic makeup. I have perfectly straight, white teeth but weak enamel and erosion (READ: Over 12 cavities, 3 crowns and 1 root canal despite flossing twice a day and brushing 3 times a day since I was 16!)
So I knew oral care for my girls was something I had to take seriously.
So here are my 5 Tips For Fuss-Free, Healthy Teeth in Kids:
1. Find a toothbrush your kids will love…and buy 2 more!
There are a gazillion toothbrushes out there and we have tried them all! There are character ones and ones that play music. There are rotating and spin brushes. There are ones that change color. And what’s more is the one your child LOVES today may not be motivating for them in a few weeks. In general, toothbrushes are cheap and the expense is worth it in the long run.
Now that my girls are 3 and 6, I splurged and bought a Philips Sonicare for Kids. This is hands down the best toothbrush we have bought. The girls got to “design” their own handles and the timer indicates exactly when they need to move the brush in their mouth. But we still keep back-up toothbrushes around for those nights when they want something different!
2. Take your kids to the dentist by their First Birthday.
Young kids are so adaptive – even though our first few visits to the dentist involved some tears, my girls quickly learned that 1) the dentist is their friend and 2) we are going to keep coming here so you mine as well figure out a way to like it! The older they get though before that first visit, the harder it will be…and the more likely you will have to deal with cavities in the near future.
3. Take turns brushing their teeth.
My 3 year old likes to brush her teeth first and then she knows Mommy will “check” back over them. My 6 year old brushes her own teeth in the morning and I do the evenings. They both feel like they are involved and they are learning technique, all while I am making sure they get an actual cleaning.
4. Always brush their teeth at night!
Even if you can’t stick to the twice a day teeth- brushing routine for your kids, make sure you brush their teeth well before bedtime. Overnight, so much more bacteria can grow. So if you can only squeeze it in once, choose to do it at night!
My Favorite Tip For Fuss-Free, Healthy Teeth in Kids…
5. Brush your child’s teeth from behind!
This one is a new one I recently learned. I have been having my girls lay down for forever because it’s easier for me to see in their mouths (plus, the dentist said that makes it easier for them when they go to the dentist because they are used to laying down). But both my girls have extremely small jaws, which makes it even harder to fit a toothbrush in there! The dental hygienist suggested I brush like they do in the office…from behind.
So now, I lay the girls down and brush their teeth from behind, and I can see so much better and reach all those hard to reach areas! I just wish I had known about this one before!
And just for you, my readers, here is my bonus Tip!
6. Don’t describe cavities as the WORST thing that could happen!
Yes, cavities are a pain and yes you want to brush to avoid them. But in reality, most kids will have at least one cavity in their youth. And if you have made it out to be this terrible, painful thing, they will be terrified once that day comes. I tell my girls, “Let’s brush our teeth to keep them clean, white and healthy. We want to avoid cavities BUT should you get one, we will deal with that. I’ve had them and kids get them and they have all been okay!”
If you will follow these Easy Tips For Fuss-Free, Healthy Teeth in Kids, you will find that not only will your child enjoy brushing their teeth, they will also have a much healthier smile!
Hillary Cole is the owner and editor of The Cole Mines, a blog dedicated to parenting and household tips to make moms’ lives easier, with a dash of humor thrown in the mix! Prior to becoming a SAHM, she worked as a project manager, events coordinator and office manager. As she says, all those years of coordinating people and events helped her hone her skills for motherhood! “The Cole Home is not much different than those offices…the “employees” can be a little smellier but I love them with all my heart.” Connect with her via Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram.
11 thoughts on “5 Tips For Fuss-Free, Healthy Teeth in Kids”
Our children are the worst at brushing their teeth, and so we are trying to help them improve and make it a habit for the rest of their lives. These suggestions were excellent, especially the one about brushing your child’s teeth from behind. I think that this would be a great way for them to see how to do it themselves, rather than just having us do it for them. Thanks for sharing these tips with us!
I really liked your tip to avoid describing cavities as the worst thing that could happen to my child’s teeth. You’re right, cavities are something that should be avoided, but they can be easily taken care of by a dentist. I remember feeling terrified when I had to see a dentist for my first cavity as a kid. It wasn’t until after I had it filled when I realized it’s really not that big of a deal. I still brushed and flossed like I was supposed to in order to avoid getting anymore cavities, but it wasn’t the end of the world when I would get more cavities after that. Enforcing good oral hygiene habits for my kids while making sure that they know that dental health problems can be taken care of is a really good approach that I’ll be sure to adopt for teaching my own children thanks to this post.
I really like the idea of taking your kids to the dentist at an early age. That’ll help them learn to be comfortable and grow up with a dentist. That way they’ll learn that going is good and won’t be scared to go later. Thanks for sharing this.
My wife and I are trying to be better with our kids by making sure their teeth are healthy. We can agree with number one, as my wife and I have both found that kids respond better to brushing when they have a toothbrush that they love. We hadn’t realized the importance of not describing cavities as the worst thing, and we’ll be sure to be more careful about that subject. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for the ideas. My daughter is not overly fond of anything dental related. She is just now about to turn two, so I am hoping she will grow out of it, but I want to help her see that the proper care is more than worth it. I love the idea to take turns brushing her teeth. I think if I let her try it more she may feel proud about it. Thanks again.
Thank you for the tips on children’s dental care! I didn’t think that I needed to take them to the dentist so early, but it sounds like it’s a good way for them to get used to dental visits! Would you recommend that I find a pediatric dentist or just a general one to work with very young children?
We had an amazing dentist that serviced both myself and my children, so I think it depends on the dentist. I would definitely find someone that is excellent with children!
Brushing my child’s teeth from behind is a great tip. I usually struggle trying to help my child brush her teeth. This would definitely help in making her feel more comfortable at the dentist as well. Hopefully, by trying this, I can reduce the struggle each night.
I like your tip on taking turns brushing their teeth. I think it’s smart to involve them in the learning and habit forming activities of dental care. My wife and I are expecting our first child in a few months. I’m starting to get worried about all the things we will need to make sure we take care of. Going to the dentist is on the list. Reading your article made me feel a lot better though. Thanks for the help!
Making kids a part of the process as early as you can is a smart idea. It’s also a good idea to not demonize cavities. Like you said, make sure kids know why it’s important to keep their teeth clean, but don’t scare them! Thanks for sharing the tips.
Love these tips, thanks for sharing!