February brings National Children’s Dental Health Month! This is brought to you by the American Dental Association to create child awareness of the benefits of good oral health. This year’s month-long campaign is, “Brush and clean in between to build a healthy smile.”
Around their first birthday, or within six months after their first tooth emerges, visit our dentist to make sure the teeth of your child are developing properly. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, over 50 percent of children will have some kind of tooth decay before they turn five, so it is important for your child to attend early dental visits. We can address any oral hygiene questions you have and let you know when it is time to start using a toothbrush.
Let them see you brushing and flossing, and help them brush and floss their teeth. By following the 2-2-2 Rule (seeing the dentist twice a year and brushing and flossing twice a day for two minutes), you will develop healthy oral hygiene habits.
-Hold the toothbrush at a 45° angle and brush along the gum line.
-Brush each tooth in a back and forth, up and down motion.
-Clean the inside, outside, back, and top surfaces of each tooth.
-Gently wipe the tongue to remove bacteria.
Brush twice a day for two minutes each, giving the molars some extra attention. If your little one wants to help, you can take turns brushing or let them start and you finish. Don not let them share their toothbrush, and replace it when the bristles start to fray.
When your child’s teeth touch, it is time to start flossing the areas that the toothbrush can’t clean. Whether it is dental floss, floss sticks/picks, or oral irrigators, find a flossing tool that works best and use it!
-Using about 18 inches of floss, you can wrap an end around each of your middle fingers.
-Slide the floss between two teeth gently
-At the gum line, create a C-shape around each tooth
-Pull the floss tight to scrape against each tooth and repeat until all have been cleaned.
When your child’s manual dexterity and coordination is developed around six or seven years old, you can let them start brushing on their own. At this time, our dentist can also speak with you about fluoride and dental sealants to prevent cavities. Your child can usually floss by themselves by the time they are nine or ten.
High schoolers are often busy with school, sports and extracurricular activities, work, and socializing, so you want to help them stick to their daily oral hygiene habits. They may be wearing braces, having wisdom teeth removed, and feeling self-conscious about their smile (and their breath), so good oral hygiene habits can support their goals.
-Encourage them to use a timer, listen to their favorite song while brushing and flossing for two minutes, or switch to an electric toothbrush with a timer.
-Keep plenty of dental hygiene supplies in stock such as soft toothbrushes, flavored flosses, toothpaste, and a toothbrush for their backpack when they are on the go.
-Keep fruits and vegetables handy instead of junk food for healthier snacking.
-If they are active in sports, supply them with an athletic guard to protect teeth from being chipped, cracked, or lost.
-Talk to your teen about peer-pressure activities that can damage his or her smile like smoking, drinking, or getting an oral piercing.
Your teens want to look and feel their best, so support their efforts for maintaining those oral habits instilled in their childhood. This month is a good time to reinforce good habits and provide your children and teens with the tools and support they need for a lifetime of healthy smiles!