If your kids are like most children in the world, chances are, brushing their teeth is just about the least fun activity they can think of. The good news for parents is that fewer kids are getting cavities that just a few years ago. However, the bad is that around 43% of children aged two to 19 do have tooth decay. Keeping cavities and gum disease at bay does take daily work, but there are many ways that you can make it a little more fun for kids.
It’s All in the Angle
Top electronics companies have a plethora of products aimed specifically at kids, but some (such as the Sonicare) are specifically created to make brushing a bit more entertaining.These toothbrushes come with dedicated apps featuring cartoon characters that accompany kids throughout the whole brushing process. The app does two things: ensure that children spend enough time on each tooth, and teach them the correct angle at which to hold the brush. Whether or not you rely on an app, it is vital to teach your kids where to place the brush. For instance, many kids tend to brush only the lower half of teeth, as well as the chewing surfaces of teeth. In fact, they should also target the inner and outer surfaces, as well as the gumline, which is where the majority of plaque forms. Finally, from an early age, kids should be encouraged to floss after brushing.
When to Brush?
Encourage kids to brush their teeth right after a meal, especially if they have consumed sweet foods. Carbohydrate-rich foods enable bacteria that attack the tooth’s enamel. However, if your kids have eaten something acidic (think oranges, lemons, or grapes) they should wait about half an hour, because these foods weaken enamel, and brushing too soon can cause further damage.
Cleaning Teeth with Orthodontics
Kids wearing braces and other orthodontics can be at a higher risk of developing cavities because they are not able to clean the spaces between teeth with dental floss. They should have a special orthodontic brush they can use to brush the gum line and remove lodged material from their apparatus. Devoted dads can make it easier on their little ones by feeding kids ortho-friendly foods which are gentle on teeth, avoiding foods like caramel, popcorn, and beef jerky, which can be very hard to remove when you are wearing braces.
As mentioned above, food choices are key when it comes to promoting lifelong oral health in children. Dentists can be very useful at letting kids know why items that may seem healthy, such as fruit juices, for instance, are big cavity risks because they ‘settle’ on tooth surfaces and contain sugar, which is food for decay-causing bacteria. You can play food pyramid games with your children, encouraging to place the food in the right category, or use apps like Healthy Heroes 1&2: Nutrition for Kids, Veggie Circus Farm, or Smash Your Food. The latter is particularly useful for showing kids how much sugar, salt, and fat are hidden in everyday foods.
Keeping teeth in a healthy state is a day-to-day effort. Kids may sometimes hesitate to brush after a meal, so it is important to let them know that they need to get to their teeth before bacteria do! Finally, parents can consider fun toothbrushes that are made just for kids. These combine technology with bright designs, to get kids more inspired to brush with the correct technique.