Wednesday, October 3, 2012

About Tooth Brushing

Tooth brushing is an integral daily living task that is vital to ensure dental and overall health. It is also one of the more difficult skills for children to learn and master. For some of our learners who need additional help, we wanted to provide you with some basic information and practical tips as they relate to tooth brushing.
Most developmental cusps are not set in stone in terms of age. Some skills take longer to learn and master, while others happen way before they were anticipated. There are, however, some typical ages when certain skills related to tooth brushing should occur. At 24 months or slightly older, the child should be brushing their teeth with assistance. At around 3-4 years, they should be brushing their teeth with a vertical and horizontal motion. Around this same 3-4 years old time, they should spit out the toothpaste when they’re done, rinse their toothbrush, and wipe their mouth and hands dry following tooth brushing.A little bit after this, we typically see that children are able to replacing the top on the tooth paste, and return their tooth brush and tooth paste to a designated area. And lastly, around 5 ½ years old, children can typically use proper brushing strokes. (Information adapted from the HELP for Preschoolers curriculum). Even if your child is not exactly where they ought to be in the realm in tooth brushing , you do not need to worry! Learning can occur!

Now, for some practical tips that you can use in the home!

- The first step is to desensitize the child to the sensation of having something in their mouth with an awkward feel and taste. This can be started by using a clean, wet piece of cloth wrapped around your finger to wipe the teeth (Please note, if a child bites,neverput your fingers in their mouth). You can start this as soon as you see the first tooth
- If your child is 2 and older, you can begin to introduce the tooth brush. Letting them explore the tooth brush (play with it, mouth it, imitate you using a tooth brush, etc.) is a great first step to introducing this new stimulus
 - Keep it short! A quick tooth brushing is better than nothing at all
- If it’s a matter of the toothpaste being aversive, start without toothpaste and gradually increase the amount
- For children who are presenting with more difficulties, do not hesitate to make brushing happen after every meal to create a routine
- If your child needs physical assistance, standing behind them, rather than to the front or sides, can make the assistance easier on you and less threatening for the child

With these tips in mind, and with appropriate interventions provided by trained and qualified personnel, you are moving in the right direction towards having successful and functional tooth brushing for your child!

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