The average child only sees their dentist two days out of the year. This leaves their dental care in the hands of their parents for the remaining 363 days. While you may not be brushing your child’s teeth for them anymore, there are still some rules you need to teach them regarding this critical oral hygiene task that they will perform every day for the rest of their lives.
Although many parents consider it a win when independent tooth brushing happens at all, there are some right and wrong ways to brush your teeth. In fact, there are several common mistakes that kids (and parents) unintentionally make when it comes to brushing teeth.
Here are three important rules about tooth brushing that you and your child need to know to make the job most effective:
- #1 More Is Not Always Better
- Don’t get fooled by the swirly oversized globs of toothpaste you see in magazine ads or commercials. When it comes to a child, only a fraction of that toothpaste amount is actually needed. Most dentists recommend patients between the ages of 3 and 6 use “pea size” amount of toothpaste those under 3 years only need a “smear” of toothpaste the size of a grain of rice! is needed (or about the size of a grain of rice). Using too much toothpaste can put your child at risk for fluorosis as well as make it more difficult to spit all of the toothpaste out after brushing.
- More is not better when it comes to brushing force either. Teach your child that plaque is a sticky film that can be gently removed with moderate brush strokes. Using too much force can damage tooth enamel and cause the gums to recede.
- #2 It’s Not a Race
- It’s not uncommon for kids to want to rush through their daily chores, and this unfortunately includes brushing teeth. Make sure they understand the importance of brushing for the full two minutes each session. Consider downloading a fun dental app with a timer to help them stay the course and not race through their dental hygiene routine.
- #3 Don’t Go Solo Too Soon
- Although your child may feel like he or she is ready to start brushing and flossing alone, they should be able to tie their own shoe or write in cursive before you should relinquish the duty. While this is certainly not a strict rule, it does ensure your child has achieved the fine motor skills, dexterity and coordination it takes to effectively brush and floss independently.
- #4 Know the Impact of Snacks and Sodas
- While dental hygiene makes up the most important part of keeping teeth healthy and strong, you should teach your child about the other things that can heavily influence the health and condition of their pearly whites – such as what they eat and drink. Some kids only associate hard candy with cavities. The truth is, acidic drinks, clingy carbs and sticky fruits can be just as harmful. If they must indulge in an occasional treat, make sure they understand the importance of rinsing with water or even brushing afterwards if possible
- #5 Protect Your Mouth During Play
- Does your child play sports? From football and hockey to skateboarding and mountain climbing, kids can encounter some pretty rough injuries to the mouth when they least expect it. We encourage you to get a mouthguard for your active and athletic child and help them understand the importance of this piece of equipment every time they go to compete or put themselves at risk.
Need A Dentist for Your Entire Family?
At Grateful Dental, we love treating young smiles. We are proud to offer the valued convenience of caring for your entire family at our Marietta office. When it comes to educating young patients about dental health, we are here to partner with parents using a gentle and kid-friendly approach. We always want our pediatric patients to have a positive association with dental care, both at home and at the dental office. Call our Marietta clinic today to schedule your family’s appointments.