As a parent, you try to make brushing, flossing, and overall oral hygiene fun for your kids. At first, they may really enjoy the brightly colored toothpaste, the toothbrush shaped like their favorite cartoon character, and the floss they can twirl around their fingers. After all, you’re finally letting them put something in their mouths instead of constantly telling them, “Don’t chew on that!” or “Get that out of your mouth!” Although oral hygiene can start out as something fun, kids can quickly get bored and start to neglect their teeth. So how do you know if they’re properly brushing, or if they’re brushing at all? At our Smyrna children’s dental office, we’d like to give you a few tips and clues that you can use to see if your child is brushing or not.
A good general rule of thumb for anyone, even kids with baby teeth, is to brush for at least 2 minutes. Anything shorter than that and there’s a good chance a whole bunch of germs, bacteria, and food debris is getting missed, increasing the chance of cavities. If your child is rushing through his routine, it’s important to explain why brushing each section of his mouth is important. Need a little more motivation? Use music that lasts for at least 2 minutes and challenge him to brush for the whole song. There are also brushes designed for children with built in timers that play music, light up, or vibrate that can help your child make sure that he makes it two whole minutes.
When your child says he’s finished brushing his teeth, ask him to see his pearly whites and give you a big grin. If food particles are visible, chances are he didn’t brush well enough, if at all. Another giveaway you can check for during the post-brush grin test is if his tongue is white. If it is, it’s still loaded with bacteria that would have been removed through a thorough brushing. Send him back to the sink. And don’t forget to check that toothbrush. We have had many parents tell us that the toothbrush is dry when they check it!
If your child has bad breath, there’s a good possibility his oral hygiene habits are slacking. Bad breath doesn’t necessarily come from what you eat, but is more a result of built up bacteria (this goes for adults too!). If after a breath check you’re wincing and pinching your nose, send your kid to brush and keep monitoring his breath. If it is chronic and your child is brushing effectively, then it may indicate a more serious issue. We recommend you call The Smile Place if this is the case.
We hope that our clues have given you some good information on how you can help make sure your child is taking great care of his teeth. In addition to at-home care, it’s extremely important that your child visits our Smyrna dental office for kids regularly so we can ensure his smile is growing strong and healthy. In the meantime, happy sleuthing! We hope you find only good things!