Already dreading the sugar bath your children’s teeth will take this Halloween? Get good dental habits started now with some help from Sesame Street’s Elmo.
In a new video, created in partnership with a UCLA-led consortium called More LA Smiles, everyone’s favorite furry red monster teaches children “Elmo’s Toothy Dance.” The 2-minute YouTube video is designed to help make brushing fun for kids and to teach them proper brushing technique.
It’s the fifth installment in a video series the partnership has released to promote children’s oral health. The previous four feature Sesame Street’s Grover as a dentist, explaining the importance of dental care for children, tooth-friendly foods, how much toothpaste to use and toothbrushing as part of a bedtime routine.
Jim Crall, a professor of public health and community dentistry at the UCLA School of Dentistry and program director of More LA Smiles, says the videos are especially important during COVID-19 restrictions. “The pandemic has disrupted regular dental check-ups and in-person oral health education activities in dental offices, clinics and schools,” Crall says. “The digital treasures we’ve created are ideal for reaching an age group that is spending more time at home and online. We see these videos as not only motivational tools for parents to instill healthy habits in their children, but resources that can be enjoyed for years to come.”
Here are some tips for brushing your child’s teeth. They come from the National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness, and are recommended by Crall:
- Brush your child’s teeth after breakfast and before bed.
- Use fluoride toothpaste and a child-sized toothbrush with soft bristles.
- For children under age 3, use a small smear of fluoride toothpaste.
- For children ages 3 to 6, use fluoride toothpaste the size of a pea.
- Find a position where your child is comfortable and you where can see your child’s teeth while you brush. Sit on the floor with your baby’s or young child’s head in your lap. Or stand behind your child in front of the mirror.
- Gently brush your child’s teeth using small circles. Brush all surfaces of the teeth, including the insides and outsides.
- If you are having trouble brushing your child’s teeth, use a timer, a counting game, or a song while brushing.
- Children under age 7 or 8 need adult supervision when brushing. Let these children brush their teeth themselves while an adult watches.
- After brushing, have your child spit out the remaining toothpaste but not rinse. The small amount of toothpaste that stays in your child’s mouth is good for the teeth.