Your child’s primary teeth, or baby teeth, are just as vital to their health, speech development, and self-esteem as their permanent teeth. Some Staten Island parents we meet at 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 challenging to get your child to brush willingly, Dr. Hecht has several suggestions.
If the toothpaste is the problem, 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 tooth decay. Toothpaste is not necessary for removing food particles. Fluoride is important, however. If your water is not fluoridated, talk to Dr. Hecht about fluoride supplements.
Take your child to the store and have him or her settle upon 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 youth. Teaching your child that brushing is non-negotiable is the critical first step. After it has become part of the routine, add time by singing songs or brushing your teeth at the same time. Some New York parents have had success with setting a timer.
Compliment your child on their marvelous effort in taking care of themselves. Be sure to keep a positive attitude. Let your child know that you love their beautiful smile and want it to always be shiny white. Positive reinforcement and establishing a routine are essential parts of childhood dental brushing. We want children to be enthusiastic about a habit that will influence their health throughout their life.
If your child continues to struggle with brushing, you may look at sealants. Sealants are useful protective barriers applied to the biting surfaces of teeth. A sealant aids in preventing food particles from lodging in difficult places to brush – typically in the pits and grooves in the molars in the back of the mouth.
Contact Staten Island Dental Care – Dr. Frederick Hecht:
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