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5 tips for teaching your child to brush and floss

By – Bad Breath Expert
Posted: February 5, 2016, Updated: April 4, 2016
SUMMARY: Parents are responsible for shaping how their children approach oral health. Here's what you need to teach.

As a parent, you're responsible for teaching your child a lot of important life skills. Beyond bike riding, the right way to eat dinner and how to button a coat, proper dental hygiene is an especially vital technique to master. Not only is it a part of good overall health, but also a great smile is one way in which people interact with the world. So how do you ensure the health and well-being of your child's pearly whites? By following these five handy tips for proper brushing and flossing, of course:

"Follow the '2min2x' rule for teeth brushing."

1. Start children brushing at the right time
Up until a certain age, you're going to have to handle your child's brushing and flossing needs. However, by the age of 6, most children should be able to handle these vital tasks with only minimal supervision. Are you not sure if your little one is quite ready? Alameda Pediatric Dentistry Group mentioned seven signs to decide if any kid is ready to pick up his or her own toothbrush. That list includes being able to tie his or her own shoes, understanding a daily schedule and passing a test with teeth-staining tablets. 

2. Offer the right rules and guidelines
No matter how well your offspring can tie his or her shoes, little Bobby or Susie still need some kind of support every time they head off to brush their teeth. Rather than standing overhead each time until your kid eventually moves out, you can teach him or her some helpful, lifelong rules. For instance, the Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives has the "2min2x" rule - everyone should brush twice a day for two minutes each time. Nolan Dental, meanwhile, suggested a mnemonic device for the order of brushing: OIBR - outside, inside, biting surfaces and rinse.

3. Emphasize the angles
In the same way that children need structure or guidelines in other aspects of life, teaching them specifics about the proper techniques for brushing will only reinforce your lessons. When teaching your child, make sure he or she knows to hold the brush at a 45 degree angle, according to Orajel. From that position, the brush should go from the base of the tooth up to the chewing area. Each brush stroke should be short and sweeping, moving between teeth in an even, circular fashion. 

4. Be sure to floss effectively
Children shouldn't begin flossing until their teeth surfaces touch. That means they can skip this phase until all their baby teeth have already fallen out. When flossing, you want to make sure the child has at least 18 inches of floss available; otherwise, there isn't enough to floss each tooth fully. From there, teach your child about the C formation - folding the floss into a capital C around each tooth. This technique not only ensures proper cleaning of each tooth, but it's also a much more fluid set of motions compared to some flossing approaches. 

5. Take things slow and easy
As you might have guessed, teaching a child to brush and floss properly is going to be somewhat challenging. Here are a couple of ideas to help streamline the process and cut down on tantrums and headaches alike. First, you should always let the child pick out supplies, like the color of the brush and floss. That way, the youngster feels more invested in the process. It's also a good idea to brush your own teeth at the same time as your kids. This reinforces certain skills and lets your child see the importance of proper oral care.

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