Proper dental hygiene is critical to the health of our teeth. So when you're teaching your children good habits for the care of their pearly whites, you want to make sure you provide good information that will inspire your children to take care of their teeth. Instead of saying "brush your teeth because I said so," read these common questions and answers about brushing teeth and general dental care so that you can teach your children to get into proper dental care habits.
Why do I need to brush my teeth? It's important to brush your teeth to keep your teeth healthy. Every time that you eat or drink something, not every bit of food or drink goes down your throat. Some tiny little pieces stay in your mouth and get on your teeth. If you don't brush your teeth, those tiny pieces will start to eat away at the protective coating on your teeth. Tartar and plaque will grow on our teeth if we don't brush them away! We have to brush our teeth so that we can protect them from decaying.
How often do I need to brush my teeth? Everyone needs to brush their teeth at least twice a day, if not three times a day. From as soon as a child's first tooth, proper dental hygiene is essential. Babies need only to have teeth scrubbed with a soft cloth or toothbrush (no paste). But younger children can use a regular, soft-bristled toothbrush in the morning and before bed. Parents should supervise this until children are at least 7 or 8 years old.
How much toothpaste should I use? Young children only need a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on their brushes. Any more is not only a choking risk, but also a health risk. This is because some toothpaste contains large amount of fluoride, and if a child were to swallow a large amount of fluoride, it would be harmful to his or her health. Put a small amount of toothpaste on your toothbrush and try to spread it into a line so that it won't fall off in your mouth and be swallowed. (Parents should always encourage children to spit out toothpaste. Never swallow!)
Do I need to floss? Even though we brush our teeth often, we sometimes don't get all of the harmful bits of food and drink out of our mouth. Some of it can hide between the tiny spaces between our teeth. And if we don't floss our teeth to get the food particles out of there, plaque will form. Plaque can eat away at the protective coating on our teeth too, causing us lots of pain. You will need to visit a dentist if you have too much plaque on your teeth.
What is the dentist going to do to my teeth? Everyone visits a dentist, whether their teeth are healthy or not. We go to visit the dentist twice a year to make sure that our teeth are healthy. He'll tell us if we're brushing and flossing properly. He'll ask you to open your mouth wide, and he'll wear a funny mask! But don't worry - he's just going to use his tools to have a peek at your teeth and make sure that they're still healthy. Then he'll scrape away all the tartar and plaque and get you to rinse out your mouth with water. If you're lucky, you'll get a free toothbrush or a sticker at the end of your dentist visit.
What is a cavity? A cavity is a weak spot on your tooth that developed in the same spot that plaque used to be. The protective coating on our tooth has worn away to expose the inside of our tooth! We get cavities because we don't clean our teeth properly. The dentist has to fill in the cavity with a special material so that it doesn't get any bigger and cause us pain later on. If you want to prevent getting a cavity and having to visit a dentist to have it filled, brush and floss your teeth often, eat healthy foods that won't decay your teeth and visit your dentist often. He will help you take good care of your teeth and answer any other common questions you may have about brushing your teeth.