We’re all familiar with that old expression “timing is everything.” Whether we are talking about the weird coincidence of getting a phone call at the same time as we think of a loved one or arriving at just the right time to beat the line-up at the movie theatre, timing is an important component of our daily lives. We have to arrive at work on time, babies can come late, on time or ahead of time and “time is on our side” or we’re “working against time.” You get the idea, timing can be crucial. When it comes to your teeth, specifically your children’s teeth, timing is everything!
As parents we have several concerns when it comes to teeth and time: How early “should” my child get their first tooth? When do they typically lose that long awaited tooth? When should adult teeth start to appear and perhaps, for parents of reluctant young brushers, the most important question of all – “How long should my child brush his/her teeth?” Today, we share the answer using prevailing and conventional wisdom. Traditionally, the “two-minute rule” has been the fall back position when it comes to brushing. Two minutes is certainly a number to shoot for and a good place to start. The truth is though, if you are brushing your teeth incorrectly, it doesn’t matter how long you are brushing for! As well, many Dentists are now encouraging patients to brush for as long as four or even five minutes….suggesting it’s two for the top and two for the bottom combined with an overall freshen up of teeth and tongue, that lasts for another minute. Despite this, most Dentists agree that patients almost NEVER brush for as long as they are supposed to and getting your little ones to brush for two minutes might translate into the longest two minutes of your life! So – how do you help them get there?
The easiest answer isn’t one that involves you standing over your kids to supervise. Actually, it might be better to empower them to do it alone after you have first given them the tools and resources to be successful. Providing them with a timer, perhaps one you have let them pick out themselves and/or a toothbrush that is electronic and has a self-timer means you can leave the kids in the bathroom and encourage them to learn self-regulation. You might be nearby of course, to provide encouragement and assistance where required but showing that you have trust might actually encourage longer brushing. Children are often eager to show us the results of their efforts so why should tooth brushing be any different? It should go without saying however that this exercise in patience and trust comes only after you have first invested the training time up front! If two minutes seems like an insurmountable target, work your way up to it by setting the timer for 30, then 45 and 60 seconds and progress toward your ultimate goal of 2 minutes.
When it comes to encouragement, whatever you need to do to be successful is the “right” thing to do in your house. Whether your child responds to an egg timer, a funky toothbrush or the timer on your cell phone (program in a great sound choice to signal when they are done) all that really matters is that during that two minutes of time they also brush correctly. We’ve talked about the “how” before so we won’t revisit it again today. Brinkley Dental is happy to talk to your child, whether toddler or teenager, about the time it takes to brush teeth well. In the meantime, ”don’t forget to be a BFF with your mouth and Brush that SMILE!”