I’ve recently entered the world of parenthood, and I finally relate – children can be consuming. With all of the daily must-dos, plus taking a moment to enjoy their charm, it’s hard to add on extras. However, we are losing the battle against dental decay. When half of children will have had dental decay by grade one and nearly all the rest by the time they finish high school, it is vital to make time for brushing and flossing your little one’s teeth. I remember being given an hourglass and told to brush my teeth until all the sand emptied to the bottom compartment. While old-school tactics are still valid, the digital age has many exciting tools to make oral hygiene more fun in your home.
A short video clip is a great distraction to increase brushing duration. 2min2x.org has a parent resource section and a series of videos each about 2 minutes long from the Cartoon Network that can be watched during tooth brushing.
There’s a Free APP for That
Toothsavers Brushing Game can be played in real time while brushing. It incudes an interactive brushing chart that rewards children, a parents section for monitoring progress, and different characters for each child. Key features are a 2-minute timer, a brushing tracker, a flossing reminder and FUN.
Use an electric toothbrush, but don’t cheap out! Independent studies have shown a quality electric brush cleans teeth better than a handheld toothbrush, most of the time. Select a toothbrush with a RECHARGEABLE battery and a SMALL REPLACEABLE head. A built in timer (2 minutes) is helpful. Pick a brand you trust, such as Sonicare kids or Oral B. If the design isn’t fun, decorate the brush with stickers.
Don’t Forget to FLOSS
The math is simple, there are 5 surfaces to each tooth (front, back, inside, outside and chewing top), and where teeth touch tightly together our toothbrush can’t clean. That means, for even the best tooth brushers, not flossing leaves 2 out of 5 spots on each tooth dirty. Try cute, child-friendly floss picks to make the job easier.
Be creative! Get out of the bathroom and have a brushing dance party, brush during TV time or all together. Finding a way that works in your household to make oral hygiene a family activity will turn brushing and flossing into quality time spent together, and will improve the oral health of your whole family.
Remember until a child can tie their own shoes, they need adult help for tooth brushing. Flossing is harder yet and not usually mastered until about age 12. Take your children to a Pediatric Dentist for regular cleanings, exams and motivation!
Dr. Daniel Charland BMSc, DDS, Cert Ped. Dent., MS, FRCD(C)
Certified Specialist in Pediatric Dentistry
Burlington Pediatric Dentistry