One of the most important health habits we can teach our kids is to take care of their teeth. Building good habits from going to the dentist twice a year, to brushing and flossing daily, to eating the right foods can all go a long way in protecting their teeth for decades of their lives. This can be a difficult for parents, as it can be a challenge to help kids transition from having their teeth brushed and flossed for them to handling it themselves. In this article, we will discuss timelines, and ways you can encourage and support your children in their dental habits. One of the best ways to teach kids about oral health is to schedule regular dental visits with a local family dentist. If you live in the Lewiston, Maine area and need a dentist, please give us a call. 

When Should My Child Brush And Floss Their Own Teeth

There isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all answer here. The best answer is that your child should start brushing and flossing with supervision when they are ready. A great way to teach almost anything is in a four-step process. 

  1. The first phase is purely demonstration. When you brush and floss your children’s teeth you can explain the importance and the technique. Explain to your kids what you are doing and how long you should brush and floss. You can also demonstrate by brushing your own teeth and explaining the process.
  2. The second phase is to let your kids help you. Encourage them to answer questions about brushing and flossing and consider giving them a dental toy that they can practice with.
  3. The third phase is to monitor them. Go to the bathroom with your kids and have them brush and floss their teeth. Do this consistently for a few weeks to make sure they are brushing long enough and flossing all of their teeth. Make sure they also learn to spit out toothpaste correctly as well.
  4. And finally, you can encourage them to start brushing and flossing without you. It is still important to make sure your children are brushing and flossing in this final phase. A common issue is kids forgetting or choosing to skip brushing and flossing. 
Following these steps is a great way to transition a kid from having their oral hygiene handled 100% by their parents to 100% by themselves. The important concept is the transition. Telling kids to just brush and floss on their own can lead to bad technique or inconsistency. 

How Can I Help My Kids Brush & Floss Consistently

Different strategies work for different kids and different ages. Here are a couple of ways to encourage your children to keep up their oral habits. 

  • Use Sticker Calendars: For getting your kids to brush every day, a lot of parents get calendars that they can either mark off with stickers or with pencils and markers. Decorating and personalizing these calendars can be very fun for kids. And that personal connection to their calendar can help them take on the personal responsibility for their oral health. Some parents even being the process with a full month of stickers by brushing and flossing with their kids for the first full month to get their kids excited about creating these calendars and completing them. 
  • Use Music: Another common issue for kids of all ages is brushing long enough. A great way to help kids keep an internal clock is with music. Many songs are above the two minutes you need to brush for, so it can be helpful to listen to music and stop brushing once the song is over. You can have a playlist of your kids favorite songs and let them request a specific song each time they brush. This added level of personalization can continue to help kids feel excited about that part of the day. 
  • Brush Together: Especially when kids are young it is helpful to either brush literally at the same time or to take turns around the same time. If the entire family brushes before bed, each having their own turn, it can help establish a routine. 

Family Dentist in Lewiston

Our dental office provides family dental services for patients of all ages. If you are interested in schedule a family dental appointment, please click below to give us a call.