Tooth decay (cavities) is the single most common chronic childhood disease in the U.S. (ADA). Untreated cavities can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, and learning.
Cavities are caused when sugar from sweets is left on the teeth and combines with bacteria to create an acid that attacks and damages the tooth enamel, the outer layer of a tooth. The acid creates tiny holes in your teeth and then continues to eat away on the inside of the tooth.
Fortunately, good tooth brushing habits can help prevent cavities. Brushing your child’s teeth with a fluoride toothpaste two (2) times a day helps removes the acids that cause tooth decay.
National Brush Day is November 1.
On National Brush Day let’s take the time to focus on the importance of children’s dental health and good tooth brushing habits. This dental awareness day is to encourage parents and caregivers to teach their children to brush their teeth daily. It is no accident that National Brush Day falls on the day after Halloween. Many children enjoy the sweet treats on that holiday and the days that follow. Help your child prevent cavities from eating all those sweets. Support your child with their daily tooth brushing.
How to help your child brush their teeth daily.
Help your child brush their teeth two (2) times a day, for two (2) minutes. Follow the steps below to help you child have healthier teeth, fewer cavities, and to avoid painful dental problems.
- Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles. This will help clean teeth well and is gentle on the tooth enamel and gums. Select a toothbrush that will fit comfortably in their mouth and is easy to hold. You can also let your child choose their own toothbrush.
- Use a pea-sized amount of fluoride tooth paste for children over 3 years old. Use the amount of a grain of rice for children less than three. Fluoride toothpaste helps strengthen and protect teeth against cavities.
- Help your child place the toothbrush at an angle against their gums. Show your child how to brush the interior, exterior, and chewing surfaces of their teeth, using small circles. Make sure your child brushes their back molars, which are most at risk for cavities.
- Teach your child to spit out the toothpaste so they do not swallow it.
- Watch your child brush their teeth to make sure they are doing it right.
- Teach your child how to floss. Children need to clean between their teeth once a day, every day, to remove plaque and food, where a brush can’t reach. Click here to see a flossing tip sheet from the American Dental Association (ADA).
- Don’t forget regular dental checkups. Some children are unable to communicate their dental pain. Dental checkups can help identify and treat dental problems before they become painful and costly. The dentist can also help answer questions you may have about your child’s daily tooth brushing routine.
How to help your children stick to their tooth brushing routine.
Motivating your children to brush their teeth daily can be a challenge. Some children refuse or forget to brush their teeth. Being a little creative may help encourage daily tooth brushing.
- Allow you child to listen to their favorite music while brushing their teeth. Click here for family-friendly tooth brushing songs.
- Reward good tooth brushing habits:
- Add extra fun time to your child’s play time.
- Reward your child with books, stickers, games, or their favorite healthy snack.
- Compliment your child on their tooth brushing routine.
- Be a good role model. Your actions can have a strong influence on your children. Take care of your dental health. Show your children daily dental care is a good habit and you enjoy a healthy smile too. Brush your teeth together as a family.
Helping your children develop good dental care habits, combined with regular dental checkups, can help them maintain a healthy smile for life.
Additional resources to help parents and caregivers with their child’s daily tooth brushing.
Seven Ways to Make Brushing Fun for Kids. Creative ways to help parents motivate their children to brush their teeth daily from the ADA.
The Magical Toothbrush Video. Sweet-Tooth Sophie has a tooth that hurts. With the help of the Magical Toothbrush, she discovers the importance of taking care of her teeth.
Children’s Oral Health Activity Book. The Orange County Local Oral Health Program (OC-LOHP) has created an activity book that can be printed to help children learn about dental care.