BRUSHING OUR TEETH is something we do everyday. And yet it’s easy for children to fall into a routine of bad habits if we’re not careful! Helping your child develop correct brushing techniques and sticking to them is crucial to the health and appearance of his or her smile. Below are some tips for good brushing:
- Use the right technique. Tilt the brush at a 45-degree angle against the gum line and brush using small circles. This method is the most gentle and effective way to remove plaque!
- Use the right toothpaste. Infants should generally use fluoride free training toothpaste or water. Young children learning to spit should use a small amount of children's fluoride toothpaste (a "smear" or the size of a grain of rice). Older children can use a pea size amount of toothpaste.
- Brush for the correct amount of time. Proper brushing typically takes at least two minutes! To make sure your child brushes for the right amount of time, use a stopwatch or turn on their favorite song while brushing. When deciding how much time to spend brushing, the important thing to remember is that it’s not about a prescribed amount of time, it’s about cleaning all the surfaces of your teeth.
- Brush morning and night. Brushing your teeth should be an absolutely essential part of your child's daily and nightly routine. It’s also important to avoid midnight snacking! Sleeping directly after eating significantly raises your child's risk for cavities.
- Replace the brush. The ADA recommends replacing the toothbrush every 3-4 months. Over time, the bristles of the toothbrush wear down and become less effective at removing plaque and bacteria. It’s also important to swap out the toothbrush after being sick, otherwise the germs from the illness may reinfect your child.
Here is a helpful video demonstrating brushing technique. Although geared towards adults, it may be helpful to demonstrate brushing to your child!
- Don’t put yourself at risk for gum recession. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and refrain from aggressive brushing. Brushing with a hard-bristled toothbrush or using excessive force while brushing can slowly cause gums to recede, exposing the root of the tooth and leading to sensitivity. Not fun!
- Don’t brush immediately after eating. Wait at least 30 minutes after you’ve eaten to brush your teeth. When you eat, bacteria produce acid that temporarily weakens the enamel. Brushing too soon after eating, especially acidic foods, can damage the enamel in its weakened state. After eating, it’s best to rinse your mouth out with water or chew sugarless gum to increase saliva production. These measures will help to wash away bacteria without damaging your teeth!
- Don’t ignore the rest of the mouth. Especially the tongue! Did you know that 90 percent of bad breath is due to a dirty tongue? That’s why it’s so important to thoroughly brush the tongue or use a tongue scraper.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of visiting a dentist. No matter how well your child brushes, biannual visits to our office are imperative to keeping your child's smile radiant and healthy! Professional cleanings and checkups are the easiest way to avoid dental problems in the future.
Little Things Can Make A Big Difference!
We hope these little tips will make a big difference in your child's oral hygiene routine!
Our patients mean the world to us!
Image by Flickr user Arek Olek used under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original. The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.