Category Archives: teach kids to brush teeth

6 Brushing Mistakes NOT to Teach Your Kids

Little girl in pink pajamas in bathroom brushing her teethJust as with many things in life, it’s really easy to pass on the bad with the good lessons—even when teaching them the basics of brushing teeth. Here are some common mistakes you should try NOT to pass on to your kids.

Brushing too hard

“You gotta brush really well!” is a well-meaning saying that can be easily misunderstood—and turn into a brushing mistake. While you want your kids to reach all those hard-to-reach places (what you mean), make sure your kids don’t interpret those words into brushing really hard. If kids brush too hard, it can lead to sore (or bleeding) gums—and kids who don’t want to brush the next day.

Not flossing

Parenting can seem like a game of Monkey See, Monkey Do. If you want your kids to floss, show them how to do it AND do it yourself. Be a good flossing role model whenever they’re around; floss before or after you brush (it doesn’t matter when as long as you do it). When your kids brush on their own, don’t just ask your kids if they brushed. Ask if they flossed their teeth, as well, to reinforce the importance of this healthy habit. If they are still afraid to floss, ask your dentist how to make flossing fun at home. Your dentist can also talk to them about the importance of regular flossing; flossing helps decrease cavities, tooth decay, and the chance of developing gum disease (all of which you don’t want your kids to deal with!).

Not brushing long enough

Have you ever seen a kid head into the bathroom to wash their hands, only to rinse their hands for a second and then head out yelling “I washed my hands”? Avoid the same kind of ineffective tooth brushing! Set a timer for two minutes or play a two-minute song to ensure that your kids are thoroughly brushing their teeth. Teaching your kids the right way to brush now (use these ideas for teaching kids to brush) can lead to less dental problems as they grow and keeps their baby teeth healthy (here’s why healthy baby teeth are important).

Not brushing enough

Kids (and adults) should brush twice a day. When life gets hectic and crazy, it can be hard to find the time to squeeze in a good tooth brush. Don’t let your kids skip even one time. Bring a tooth brush and tooth paste along if you think your kids are going to fall asleep on the way home. Make sure you remind your kids to brush even when they are on vacation (and out of routine). If your kids are still being stubborn about skipping brushing, ask your dentist to talk to them about the importance of teeth brushing at their next dentist appointment.

Letting them brush on their own

Brushing teeth is a great first step of independence. Your kids love showing you can do it—but that doesn’t mean they should be brushing entirely on their own. Because their motor control and dexterity is still developing, do a quick check of their brushing after their done—and don’t be afraid to do a quick touch-up with their toothbrush.

Not swapping out brushes

This is a mistake that you can directly control. While your family doesn’t need new tooth brushes every time you get sick, but your family should replace everyone’s tooth brushes every 3-4 months. Take your kids shopping with you to pick out new tooth brushes (and tooth pastes) that they can’t wait to brush with the next morning or night.

5 Tricks that’ll Make Teeth Brushing Fun for Your Kids

Father and son smiling while brushing teeth in bathroomHealthy teeth are important for a number of reasons: they’re better for your overall health, cheaper (less charges for dental work!), and can make your smile look great. They’re also a lifelong endeavor that should start at a very early age. The American Dental Association recommends that parents start brushing their kids’ teeth as soon as they are in and take them to visit the dentist after their first birthday.

How do you make all that work “stick”? How do you keep your kids want to brush their teeth? How can you help your kids have a healthy smile for life? This is one case where taking away TV privileges or sending them to their room won’t work—and can lead to a fear of the dentist as they get older.

Instead, make it your goal to make teeth brushing fun for your kids. Use these tricks to make your kids look fun to brushing their teeth—and make it a lifelong healthy habit.

App-ly the fun.

Make tablets and computers a tool in your quest to make brushing fun for your kids. They are, after all, a source of fun to your kids! Use these fun videos or download one of these cool apps to make brushing for two minutes fun.

Make it a game.

Brushing teeth should never feel like a chore. If you have a toddler or a preschooler, use games to make brushing a fun part of the routine. Use an egg timer to make brushing teeth exciting (gotta make it until it goes off) and ensure that your kids are brushing for a full two minutes. If you don’t have a timer, use a radio or music player with a funny two-minute song to get them brushing.

Another fun brushing game involves both of you (and gives you the opportunity to model good brushing habits!). It’s an incredibly simple game: you brush a little, then your child brushes. Put another way, “I brushed here, how about you?” Continue challenging your child until you’ve both brushed every part of your mouth.

Get their favorite stuffed friend in on the fun.

When that game is done, include their favorite stuffed animal in their nightly routine. Use another toothbrush (without toothpaste) to brush their favorite teddy bear, doll, penguin, or any other stuffed animal in on healthy teeth. When it’s time to head to the dentist, bring that stuffed animal along to the visit (and make sure you choose a kid-friendly dentist that allows them to come along).

Make it a life lesson.

Reading is for kids’ minds. Brushing is good for their teeth. Accomplish both goals by picking up fun books about visiting the dentist and teeth brushing. Include those books into your book line-up for a sneaky (and enjoyable!) life lesson.

Take them shopping.

Kids tend to get more excited about activity when they play an active role in it. Talk your kids shopping with you to choose tooth brushes, tooth pastes, and flossers that they want to brush in. Your kids’ll love to pick out tooth brushes and tooth pastes with their favorite characters and colors.

Answers to All Your Brushing Questions

brushing teeth faq'sBrushing your teeth is one of the most important parts of your daily routine, and one of the most simple. However, there are still a lot of questions about brushing asked in our office, and a lot of misperceptions floating around. We’ll start with one of the most basic questions about brushing and all the frequently asked questions that go with it.

How do I brush my teeth correctly?

Use short strokes to gently brush each tooth, making sure you brush the front, back, and top of each tooth. Brush your gums as well. When you are done, rinse your toothbrush. Don’t brush too hard which can have the same negative effect on your teeth.

Do you start brushing on the same side of your mouth every time? If you haven’t thought about it before, it’s time to start noticing. Commonly, people brush harder when they start, so it’s important to spread that effort around your mouth. Once you’ve figured out which side you start on, alternate sides and make sure you’re brushing correctly and teaching your kids to do the same. If you have any questions, ask your dentist to demonstrate the correct way to brush your teeth at your next appointment.

How long should I brush my teeth?

The American Dental Association recommends brushing for 2 minutes. Are you brushing long enough? Use a timer, or find another way to make sure you are hitting the 2 minute mark every time you brush. Do that twice a day, or 30 minutes after every meal.

How often do I need to get a new toothbrush?

Your toothbrush should be replaced every 3-4 months or earlier if the bristles fray.

Should I floss before or after I brush my teeth?

It doesn’t matter. It’s more important that you floss your teeth than the order in which it happens. Flossing is essential for removing harmful bacteria between your teeth, so not including this as part of your daily brushing routine can negatively affect your oral health.

How can I brush my sensitive teeth?

Owners of sensitive teeth, we’ve got great news for you! Brushing your teeth with toothpaste specifically formulated for people with sensitive teeth can actually alleviate the sensitivity of your pearly whites. Ask your dentist for the sensitive teeth toothpaste they recommend, and enjoy the benefits of having “less sensitive” sensitive teeth.

Should my gums bleed when I brush my teeth?

Usually, no. There are exceptions; women who are pregnant are one exception due to hormonal changes. For a normal, healthy person, however, your gums should not bleed when brushing. Regular bleeding gums may point to any number of medical or dental conditions. Make an appointment with your dentist as soon as you notice regular gum bleedings.

How do I teach my kids to brush my teeth?

Use technology. Use these fun videos to help your kids make sure they are brushing long enough, or download one of these cool apps to make brushing for two minutes fun.

Get toothbrushes (and toothpaste!) your kids like. Let them pick out fun toothbrushes that make them want to brush their teeth.

Show them how Mommy and Daddy (or a cool older sibling!) do it. Be a good role model. Brush often, and brush with your kids to get them in the habit.

Make it a game. Have kids pretend they are superheroes destroying cavities. Or try pretending that their toothbrush is a spaceship zapping away cavities. For the fairy-tale minded, pretend fairies are on their toothbrush. Or bring the zoo into your brushing habits by asking your lion to roar so you can brush his or her teeth!

Read books about brushing teeth. Find books about brushing teeth to read to your kids and add them to your reading routine.

Let them brush. Once your child is around two years old, allow them to brush their teeth (make sure they do it correctly, and help as needed). It makes them feel independent.

Have any more questions about brushing? Ask us via email or at your next dentist appointment. We’ll help in any way we can so you can keep your teeth as healthy as possible.

5 Ways to Help Your Kids Love (and not fear!) the Dentist

helping kids enjoy and not fear the dentistWe previously wrote a blog post about helping your kids learn (and like!) to brush their teeth, but what about enjoying dentist visits? After all, the American Dental Association recommends kids see the dentist by their first birthday, followed by regular biannual appointments. So how can you help your kids overcome their fears, and enjoy a lifetime of pleasant dentist visits?

  1. Show them how it’s done. Bring your child along to your routine dentist appointment (not for a root canal!), or to an older sibling’s appointment, and show them how pleasant it can be. Or schedule your appointments on the same day, and tell them you can go first. Many dentists also let you hold them on your lap during their visit.
  2. Read books with them BEFORE the visit. Some kids love surprises, and others don’t. If you have a child that doesn’t like surprises, tell them about the visit and read books about it. Give them a good idea of what to expect. Visit your local library to find kids books about going to the dentist.
  3. Play dentist. If your child has a favorite doll or stuffed animal, give the stuffed animal or doll a visit. Check the stuffed animal’s teeth, and count them to make sure they have all their teeth (this is a great way to teach counting too!). Practice saying “aaaaahhhh” and opening their mouth.
  4. Take along a favorite during the dentist visit. When it’s time to go to the dentist, don’t forget to take along your child’s favorite doll, blanket, stuffed animal or toy. Let them hold the toy the whole time. If your child is a toddler, be sure to ask the dentist for a sticker or toothbrush for your child’s favorite.
  5. Don’t let your nervousness show. Some kids are very sensitive, and can pick up on your fears about going to the dentist (even mild nervousness). Use positive words about the dentist, and don’t let on anything but a positive attitude (even in conversations with other people).

Another way to overcome their fears of dentist visits and enjoy a lifetime of dentist appointments is to choose your dentist carefully. Select a dentist that is comfortable with kids, and even interacts with kids in the community. A good dentist should be good with your kids, and a good listener that can answer your questions: two keys to helping your kids love (and not fear!) the dentist.

How to Teach Your Kids to Brush their Teeth (and like it!)

teaching kids to brush teethOften, our kids are a case of the extremes when it comes to establishing good, solid brushing habits: they either leave toothpaste all over the bathroom from goofing around (how did they get toothpaste there???) or they’re screaming in protest at the mere thought of a toothbrush. A child with good brushing habits is somewhere in the middle, taking their brushing habits (somewhat) seriously and willingly.

With new medical studies regularly connecting good oral health to overall health, the importance of establishing good brushing habits is more important than ever. So how can you teach your kids to brush their teeth (and like it)? Because every child is different, you may have to try one (or several of) these strategies to see what your child enjoys:

  • Use technology. Use these fun videos to help your kids make sure they are brushing long enough, or download one of these cool apps to make brushing for two minutes fun.
  • Get toothbrushes (and toothpaste!) your kids like. Let them pick out fun toothbrushes that make them want to brush their teeth.
  • Show them how Mommy and Daddy (or a cool older sibling!) do it. Be a good role model. Brush often, and brush with your kids to get them in the habit.
  • Make it a game. Have kids pretend they are superheroes destroying cavities. Or try pretending that their toothbrush is a spaceship zapping away cavities. For the fairy-tale minded, pretend fairies are on their toothbrush. Or bring the zoo into your brushing habits by asking your lion to roar so you can brush his or her teeth!
  • Read books about brushing teeth. Find books about brushing teeth to read to your kids and add them to your reading routine.
  • Let them brush. Once your child is around two years old, allow them to brush their teeth. It makes them feel independent.

teach kids about good toothbrushing habitsIf your kids are in a local southeastern Wisconsin day care or school, have your kids hear about the importance of brushing habits straight from the source: from the dental hygienists that clean their teeth. Call Watertown Area Dental to set up a fun and interactive presentation for your kids. And don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions about establishing good brushing habits in your children. Your kids, their mouths and overall health, will thank you later.