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Teaching Kids to Brush Teeth

Dentists and Dental Procedures

The best defense you can give your children against tooth decay, the leading chronic disease among kids, is to teach them how to properly brush their teeth. Model for your children the right way to brush teeth, and your children will follow your lead and enjoy a lifelong of healthy teeth.

Healthy Teeth = Healthy Life

Your child will most likely not be interested in hearing you explain how escalating evidence seems to confirm the link between oral health and overall health. In fact, your children will most likely roll their eyes if you mention that periodontal disease can cause heart disease. While that is what studies continue to suggest, you should probably motivate your youngsters to practice good oral hygiene by explaining it in terms they understand.

Explain to your little ones why teeth are important. Teeth help us eat healthy food and help us speak properly, for example. Plaque, a slimy film that is full of bacteria, stays stuck to our teeth when our teeth are not cleaned properly. Bacteria from plaque love to eat sugar that is stuck on our teeth and turn the sugar into acid, which in turn eats away tooth enamel and creates holes in our teeth called cavities. When you brush teeth, you remove the plaque and bacteria and prevent cavities.

Proper Way to Brush Teeth

The American Dental Association recommends brushing teeth for two minutes twice a day. Help your child reach that goal by using a stopwatch, egg timer, or play a favorite, upbeat song. Even better, make up a song that makes brushing fun.

Instruct your child to brush teeth in sections – upper front, lower front, upper back, and lower back – for about 15 seconds. Repeat to make it a full two minutes. Emphasize the importance of brushing near the gum line, behind teeth, and chewing surfaces. After brushing teeth, show your child how to brush their tongue and roof of their mouth. Young children often just brush front teeth when brushing without proper instruction.

Show your child how to use gentle, circular motions to remove plaque. Explain that brushing teeth vigorously does not make teeth cleaner, but it can hurt gums. Make sure your child has a soft-bristled, small-headed toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste that bear the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Replace your child’s brush every three months or when the bristles become frayed and worn, whichever happens first.

Also teach your child the importance of flossing daily. Show your child how to gently glide waxed floss between teeth and up to the gum line. Make a C with the floss, wrapping it around the tooth and sliding it down to scrape away any residue or food particles.

Keep Teeth Healthy

Find a pediatric dentist who specializes in treating and monitoring children’s teeth. Pediatric dentists are trained to work with children who are restless or anxious while in the dentist chair. They make visits fun and help children feel comfortable during regular checkups. Make appointments for your child twice a year so the dentist can monitor your child’s development and catch early signs of tooth decay.

It is also important to encourage your child to eat healthy foods and limit sugary snacks and drinks. Remind your child that plaque also loves to eat sugar and can use the sugar to eat away at tooth enamel. Provide plenty of water and crunchy raw vegetables, both of which can help remove plaque naturally.

Maintaining regular dental checkups, providing healthy foods and beverages, and modeling the proper way to brush teeth will help your child develop good oral hygiene to last a lifetime.

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