I'm a dentist – what age to take kids for a check-up & how to teach them to brush well WITHOUT you having to do it | The Sun

TEACHING a child to brush their teeth can be a hassle for many, but there are some ways to get it done while having loads of fun.

But the first sign of chompers leads to another question too – at what age should little ones start to see a dentist?

Visits to the dentist should start as soon as milk teeth appear, Dr Azad Eyrumlu of Banning Dental Group told Fabulous.

This is around six months old,although it can happen earlier or later, he said.

"It’s never too early to get children used to the idea of seeing a dentist," he said, and luckily, NHS dental care for children is free.

"When a milk tooth appears it’s a great time to book an appointment and start getting a child used to the sights and smells of a dental practice," he explained.

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"It can even be that for the first appointments the child just gets familiar with the waiting room area."

Often, first appointments might not mean "examining the tooth in great detail."

"We will take a look in the child’s mouth to check everything is in order," Dr Eyrumlu explained.

First appointments are also a good time to talk to parents about important oral care advice.

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When it comes to brusing their teeth at home,it can certainly be a chore.

But it’s important to establish a routine early, explains Dr Khaled Kasem, Chief Orthodontist of Europe’s leading orthodontics chain Impress.

"After all, most problems in children’s teeth are a result of poor dental hygiene," he said.

"So if you stick to the following tips, your child will be brushing their own teeth in no time."

Getting started:

First thing's first, it's important to choose the right toothbrush for your child.

Dr Eyrumlu recommends letting your child choose their own toothbrush and age-specific toothpaste – but within reason, of course.

"Using a small-headed, soft-bristled toothbrush is the best option for any young child, as any harshness or friction when brushing could cause a tantrum," Dr Kasem said.

And as for toothpaste, make sure it isn’t overly sweet or spicy, because "often children will pull back if it doesn’t taste quite right."

Tips to help kids brush their teeth

1. Find a time that’s right for you and stick to it

"Children need consistency to learn anything, so make sure you set a routine," Dr Kasem explained.

"Whether it’s immediately after breakfast or bath time or just before you tuck them into bed, make brushing a part of their normal schedule so they can get used to it.”

2. Keep it in the bathroom

“Try to make a habit of brushing in the bathroom, and make sure you’re doing the same,"he said.

"Children often model adult behaviour and if they see you brushing your teeth elsewhere, the likelihood is they’ll want to do the same.”

It's also a good idea to brush your teeth at the same time, as it could make your child want to do it too.

3. Take your time and let them learn

Dr Eyrumlu said it's important to let kids explore holding the toothbrush on their own.

"Angling it correctly to reach every tooth is tough. You want to have the brush at a 45 degree angle to the teeth " he said.

Splitting the mouth into four sections can help kids get it right. The upper half on the left, the upper half on the right, the lower half on the left, and the lower half on the right. 

4. Add an element of fun

“Try to make tooth brushing a fun activity rather than a chore, make them excited," said Dr Kasem.

"Whether it’s making up a song or naming each tooth something silly as you brush it, keeping them engaged will generate excitement around the whole thing."

The Hey Dugee toothbrush song is a great example of this as it encourages kids to brush their teeth for a full two minutes – the recommended time.

Another option is to use your child's favourite toy.

"Let them ‘brush’ the toy’s teeth (without toothpaste)," Dr Kasem suggested.

"This will help them to understand that it’s a normal part of everyone’s routine, and not just a punishment for them."

5. Utilise time

It's important to be brushing for a full two minutes, that's 30 seconds for each quarter of the mouth.

Dr Eyrumlu suggests using a timer so kids can see or hear the time for themselves.

“Encourage them to brush one quarter of the mouth, and when the timer is up they can move on to the next section," he explained.

"Brush along with them, doing your own teeth at the same time, enjoying the song. 

“You can also try using a mirror so your child can see what they’re doing. "

6. Offer praise

Don't forget to inspect your child's mouth when they're done to check they've done a good job.

"Then give lots of praise, high fives, whatever works," said Dr Eyrumlu.

"Bring the whole family into the experience if you can! It’s all about making the routine a fun experience they enjoy.”

Always remember…

A tantrum is inevitable at one point or another, especially when your child is tired.

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"Make the process as routine as possible but pick and choose your battles," said Dr Kasem.

"At no point should you force your child as this will create more resistance, instead keep offering them the toothbrush and create as much fun around it as you can."

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