Tooth decay, more commonly referred to as a cavity, is the breakdown of tooth enamel in your child. Enamel is the outermost layer on your child’s tooth and when it is intact it works to protect your child’s tooth and prevent decay.
Tooth decay is primarily caused by bacteria that is in the mouth feed on sugar and producing an acidic environment. While some things like genetics and tooth composition may be out of our control as a parent, there are still many ways that we can make a difference in our child’s dental care.
We have a handful of tips to help you keep your child’s teeth clean!
Play A Song While Your Child Brushes Their Teeth
We suggest that your child brushes their teeth twice a day for two minutes. Many kids struggle with the concept of time. They brush for 30 seconds and are sure that they just brushed for 5 minutes.
Having enough time for their toothbrush and tooth to contact is important because it is how bacteria and plaque are removed from their teeth. We suggest playing a 2-minute song for your child while they brush. Once the song is over, they know that they have brushed for the full two minutes. If the 2-minute song isn’t over, well then they didn’t brush for the full time and need to keep brushing until the song ends.
Most kids love music, so we have found this to be an effective and encouraging method for helping them to brush their teeth enough time.
Plaque Identifying Mouth Rinse
Another great tool that your child can use is a mouth rinse that helps them identify where plaque is in their mouth. This is a special mouth rinse that has a dye agent that stains plaque a certain color so that it is visible to you and your child.
There are two ways to use this mouth rinse. Either your child can swish with it before brushing and all plaque will absorb the color so that your child can see that all the color is removed in the end by their toothbrushing. If after 2 minutes of brushing, there is still color on their teeth, they should go back and remove that plaque with their toothbrush.
Another way to use this mouth rinse is to have your child brush for 2 minutes and then swish with the mouth rinse. This way also works as they can see if they left any plaque behind after brushing.
Try The Electric Toothbrush
You can help your child take the guesswork out of toothbrushing by having them use the electric toothbrush. Sonicare makes a great kid’s toothbrush that is rechargeable and also shuts off after your child has been brushing for the appropriate amount of time. The important thing to teach your children about the electric toothbrush is that it will do the scrubbing and brushing for them. They just need to move the toothbrush from tooth to tooth.
Swap The Sugar
Oh sugar, our kids seem to be getting it everywhere these days….fruit snacks, lunch box drinks, and Halloween candy. We have to be somewhat careful though as It’s also often paired with healthy things like cups with mandarin oranges or pears and high fructose corn syrup.
We aren’t saying you shouldn’t give your kids any sugar, but watching the intake can go a long way. Do you remember, “Eat this, not that”? You can also swap out some of your kid’s sugary snacks with healthier options like:
- Carrots and hummus
- Peanut butter on celery
- Apple slices
They might not be excited about this at first but sometimes our kids surprise us and they actually enjoy the opportunity to come up with new ideas. It is important to remember it’s the bacteria that also consume this sugar and can produce an acidic bi-product that can cause trouble with things like cavities.
We all love a fun drink sometimes, the trick is to not make it an every-time thing. It can be very helpful to keep your child’s milk or juice box at mealtime and to offer water in between meals. This way your child’s teeth are constantly being exposed to sugary drinks. Drinking water between meals will also help to flush out their mouth and keep their tissue lubricated.
Grab Your Toothbrush
Make brushing teeth a family event! Children often model what they see us doing. If they see Mom and Dad brushing, they might want to too!
Sometimes it can feel like pulling teeth to get our kids to actually brush their teeth. It shouldn’t have to be this way, yet sometimes it is.
What are some things that your kids love? Do your kids enjoy playing at the park or watching movies? Many parents have found that offering them extra time to do the things they love can be a great incentive for helping them be better brushers.
Do you have any other tips for helping kids to keep their teeth clean? We would love to hear them! Please leave a comment below with your fun dental tip!
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