Brushing and Flossing are Good Habits to Help Prevent Dental Decay
In the first blog post of this series, we discussed dental decay, Dental decay is a result of an infection that feeds on sugars found in foods and drinks creating harmful acids. These acids begin to wear away the tooth’s protective hard outer surface called enamel that overtime, cause cavities.
The good news is, dental decay can be preventable. Including brushing and flossing as habits to your daily routine helps keep dental decay at bay. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends the following:
- Birth through age six – brush and floss your child’s teeth until he or she is six years old. When your child’s old enough to stand, you can stand behind him or her while they watch in the mirror. This teaches the proper brushing technique.
- At the age of six or seven, parents are encouraged to watch their child brushing their teeth and assisting if necessary.
- By age 10 or 11, most children have the dexterity and patience to brush their teeth without supervision. Each child is different, and are ready for different habits at different ages.
Here are helpful tips for properly brushing your child’s teeth:
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends using a pea-sized drop of toothpaste for children between the ages of two and six years old. Use water only for children two and under.
- Place the toothbrush against the gums and move the toothbrush gently in short circular strokes. Brush the outer surfaces of each tooth on the upper and lower half of the mouth. Repeat this same method in the inside of the mouth as well as the chewing surfaces.
- Since saliva collects behind the tongue and causes mineral deposits build-up to build up, take special care in this area.
- Once all the surfaces of the teeth have been brushed, bush the tongue. This removes bacteria and helps freshen breath.
- Routinely check your child’s toothbrush to make sure the bristles are upright and not splayed. Once the bristles are splayed or spread apart, the toothbrush loses its effectiveness. Dentists recommend replacing toothbrushes every three months.
- As soon as a child stops swallowing toothpaste (around the ages of three to five) begin using fluoridated toothpaste. Fluoride is a mineral that makes tooth enamel more resistant to the acid that causes tooth decay.
Do not forget to floss your child’s teeth. Flossing removes bacteria, food and plaque from between the teeth, where the toothbrush cannot reach.
Since children do not have the dexterity to floss by themselves, the ADA recommends parents floss the child’s teeth until the age of 10 or 11.
Following are helpful tips for proper flossing:
- Use 18” of floss, and wind most of it around the middle fingers of both of your hands. Hold the floss between the thumbs and forefingers.
- Using a gentle motion, guide the floss between the teeth and curve it into a C-shape. Gently scrape the floss against the side of each tooth.
- Repeat these steps on each tooth, and don’t forget the back surfaces of the last teeth in each corner of the mouth.