Will You Let Your Young Child Ride a Bike on Their Own Unsupervised?

"I told you you need to brush your teeth." My disappointed mom is telling her child after hearing their 5-year-old has cavities. Then the mom tells me,"I told them to brush but they don't listen." or 
"They brush so quickly." 

At times I get the 'hush-hush version' where the parents whisper to me "Can you really tell them to brush their teeth?" It always makes me smile. All these comments and more gave me insight on how parents are struggling at home to get their children to brush.

Most parents are not aware that just like walking as a toddler and riding a bike, a 5-year-old needs guidance when it comes to brushing and flossing. If you have been faithful about brushing and flossing your child's teeth till now, you are already on the right track.  

I encourage parents to help children brush and floss even up to age 12. Slowly ease your 5-year-old into brushing on their own. Use positive reinforcement and praises! Check to make sure all is clean and brush once again for them as routine. Introduce them to flossing the same way. Soon, your child will become an expert.

Some parents, though, struggle with the children with a more independent nature who just don't like the idea they are being supervised. Then how about turning it into a fun parent-child activity? Brush together side by side! Time each other a good two minutes and see who persists! After checking your child's performance, maybe even allow your child to check if you did a good job.

If you need advice on how to improve your techniques, your dentist can help you during your regular visits for exams and cleanings. These visits to your dentist will play an important role in maintaining and improving good habits and skills. 

Dr. Hyun S. Bang, D.D.S. Doctor of Dental Surgery Loma Linda University 2008

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