Oral Hygiene


Brushing & Flossing | Dental Health

Brushing & Flossing

Brushing

Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste, unless the child is under the age of 3. If a child is younger than age 3, parents should clean their child’s teeth with water and a soft-bristled toothbrush. After age 3, parents should supervise brushing. Use no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and make sure children do not swallow excess toothpaste.

Instruct your child to move the brush in small circular motions to reach food particles that may be under the gum line. They should hold the toothbrush at an angle and brush slowly and carefully, covering all areas between teeth and the surface of each tooth. It will take your child several minutes to thoroughly brush their teeth. They should brush up on the lower teeth, down on the upper teeth and the outside, inside and chewing surface of all of the front and back teeth. They should also brush their tongue and the roof of their mouth before rinsing.

Your child should brush their teeth four times daily to prevent the accumulation of food particles and plaque:

  • In the morning after breakfast
  • After lunch or right after school
  • After dinner
  • At bedtime

As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace your child’s toothbrush with a new one. Do not allow your child to swallow any toothpaste. They should rinse their mouth thoroughly with water after brushing. It is important that your child carefully floss and brush daily for optimal oral hygiene.

Flossing

For areas between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, dental floss is used to remove food particles and plaque. Dental floss is a thin thread of waxed nylon that is used to reach below the gum line and clean between teeth. It is very important that your child flosses every day.

Pull a small length of floss from the dispenser. Instruct your child to wrap the ends of the floss tightly around their middle fingers. They should guide the floss between all teeth to the gum line, pulling out any food particles or plaque.

Your child should floss at night to make sure their teeth are squeaky clean before bed.

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Dental Health

Why Good Dental Health is Important

Innumerable studies and research have concluded on the importance of starting children early in their lives with good dental hygiene and oral care. According to research, the most common chronic childhood disease in America is tooth decay, affecting 50 percent of first-graders and 80 percent of 17-year-olds. Early treatment prevents problems affecting a child’s health, well-being, self-image and overall achievement.

The National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research estimates that children will miss 52 million hours of school each year due to oral health problems and about 12.5 million days of restricted activity every year from dental symptoms. Because there is such a significant loss in their academic performance, the Surgeon General has made children’s oral health a priority.

Parents are responsible for ensuring their children practice good dental hygiene. Parents must introduce proper oral care early in a child's life—as early as infancy. The American Dental Hygiene Association states that a good oral hygiene routine for children includes:

  • Thoroughly cleaning your infant’s gums after each feeding with a water-soaked infant cloth. This stimulates the gum tissue and removes food.
  • Teaching your child at age 3 about proper brushing techniques with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste and later teaching them brushing and gentle flossing until 7 or 8 years old.
  • Regular visits with their dentist to check for cavities in the primary teeth and for possible developmental problems.
  • Encouraging your child to discuss any fears they may have about oral health visits, but not mentioning words like “pain” or “hurt,” since this may instill the possibility of pain in the child’s thought process.
  • Determining if the water supply that serves your home is fluoridated; if not, discussing supplement options with your dentist or hygienist.
  • Asking your hygienist or dentist about sealant applications to protect your child’s teeth-chewing surfaces and about bottle tooth decay, which occurs when teeth are frequently exposed to sugared liquids.

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