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How to Encourage Good Dental Habits in Children
Brushing and flossing are the best ways to protect your dental health, but convincing children to pick up their toothbrushes can be a challenge. Try these tips to encourage good oral hygiene habits.
Offer Simple Explanations. Use age-appropriate language to explain how plaque can lead to tooth decay. For example, you might tell children that brushing and flossing removes germs that can cause cavities.
Model Good Oral Hygiene Practices. Kids love to do what adults do. Brush your teeth when they do and demonstrate proper brushing techniques.
Give Your Kids A Little Help. Do not be afraid to assist your kids if they do not do a good enough job on their own or do not have the manual dexterity to brush effectively.
Buy Plaque Disclosing Tablets. If you have an unenthusiastic brusher, these chewable tablets might just convince him or her to do a better job. The fruit-flavored tablets temporarily turn the teeth purple or blue to show areas of plaque that remain on the teeth after brushing.
Make Brushing Fun. Create a brushing chart and affix a brightly colored sticker every day your child brushes without complaint. When your child receives a certain amount of stickers, offer a small toy or other non-food treat.
Turn Up The Music. Everything is better with music, especially brushing and flossing. Turn on the tunes while your child brushes, or buy a toothbrush that plays music for two minutes, the time dentists recommend for efficient brushing.
Keeping up with the health needs of a busy family is a challenging job. Unfortunately, when there is too much to do and not enough time, dental health can suffer. In fact, someone in your family may have a cavity at this very moment! According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 23 percent of children ages 2 to 11, 20 percent of tweens and teens ages 12 to 19, and 26 percent of adults have untreated tooth decay. Luckily, improving your family's dental health is as easy as following these simple steps.
Spend 6 Minutes Per Day on Oral Hygiene
Far too many people do not spend enough time brushing their teeth. A quick, 30-second brushing session may freshen your breath, but it probably will not remove every speck of cavity-causing plaque. Two minutes is the recommended brushing time for adequate plaque removal. Brush for two minutes in the morning and two minutes before you go to bed, making sure that each tooth receives equal attention. Add an extra two minutes for flossing per day to remove debris and plaque between teeth.
Brushing and flossing do not just brighten and freshen your smile, but also remove plaque from teeth. Plaque is a sticky, colorless film that contains bacteria. It combines with the sugars in foods to form acids that attack tooth enamel, causing cavities. Brushing and flossing is a very effective way to remove plaque and keep your teeth free from tooth decay and gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease.
Use Therapeutic Mouthwash
Using therapeutic mouthwash provides extra protection from cavities. Cosmetic mouthwashes freshen your breath, but do not provide the oral health benefits you will receive when you use a therapeutic mouthwash. These mouthwashes kill bacteria, reduce plaque buildup, and control bad breath. Therapeutic mouthwashes often contain fluoride, a substance that helps strengthen tooth enamel. Use mouthwash after meals, but do not rinse your mouth or eat or drink for at least 30 minutes after using. Although therapeutic mouthwashes benefit the entire family, children who are younger than 7, should not use them.
Visit Your Dentist Every 6 Months
It's not always easy to find time to visit the dentist, but regular visits are one of the best ways to protect your oral health. During those visits, your dentist can spot small cavities that you may have not noticed yet. Treating cavities at the earliest stage is particularly important. Filling a large cavity eliminates tooth decay, but also weakens the tooth because a substantial amount of the structure must be removed. The smaller the filling, the stronger your tooth.
It's never too early to visit the dentist. Experts recommend that children begin dental visits by age one or within six months after the first tooth appears. During those visits, your dentist looks for cavities and makes sure that your child's teeth, mouth, and jaw are developing normally.
Regular dental visits are equally important for the older members of your family. After years of biting and chewing, tooth enamel tends to break down, making it easier for acids to attack teeth. At the same time, your nerves become less sensitive, and it may be difficult to tell that you have a cavity until it's very big.
Has it been a while since your family's last dental exam? Call us and we will schedule a convenient time for your visit.
Colgate: What is Good Oral Hygiene
American Dental Association: Baby Teeth
American Dental Association: Learn More About Mouthrinses
Mayo Clinic: Oral Health, 4/30/16
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research: Dental Caries in Adults
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