Young children must have their teeth brushed by an adult. As they get older, though, they should brush their own teeth. You will need to remind them to brush their teeth, of course, and teach them these 3 lessons for great teeth well into their senior years.
1. Brush Twice Floss Once
Teach your kids how to brush properly. Show them how to apply toothpaste, hold the toothbrush and brush effectively. Explain to them that they must clean their teeth thoroughly, brushing the fronts, backs and tops of the teeth. When they get old enough, teach them to count slowly to 60 twice while brushing. If they say “1 million 1, 1 million 2” to 60 twice, that will equal about 2 minutes which is how long it should take to brush their teeth thoroughly.
Health Canada says, “If your child can write (not print) his or her name, your child is able to brush their teeth by themselves.”
Show them how to floss when they get old enough. Explain that they need to pull the floss down gently, wrap it around each tooth in a “C” and pull it back up gently, rubbing it across the inner surfaces of each tooth along the way. Point out that food and plaque accumulate in between their teeth, causing cavities and gum disease.
**Brush in the morning after breakfast. Brush and floss at night before bed.**
Explain to your children how food left on or in between their teeth at night rots their teeth all night. It is extremely important to have clean teeth at bedtime.
2. Sugar Rots Teeth
Explain to your children how bacteria flourishes in sugar, quickly forming a coating all over their teeth after they eat sugary food. After 24 hours, that bacteria hardens into plaque which is virtually impossible to brush off. Their teeth rot beneath this coating. Also, as the plaque builds up, it works its way down beneath the gum line, causing gum disease.
**Point out that they will end up with cavities or lose their teeth and, when their adult teeth are gone, they do not grow back.**
Tell your children to limit sugary food. You can also teach them to brush their teeth 20 minutes after their sugary treat to reduce the damage.
3. Wear a Mouthguard
Teach your child the importance of wearing a mouthguard while practicing and playing sports. The mouthguard protects their teeth by reducing the impact of getting hit in the mouth. This could mean the difference between getting teeth knocked out and just getting a fat lip, which will heal.
The Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine says, “They may also decrease the risk of concussion.”
Get him or her a mouthguard that fits properly and teach him or her to wear it and clean it regularly.