Tips for Dental Hygiene
by Carol Hovis, Byrnes HEC Health Educator
In honor of National Dental Health Month in February, I am sharing the American Dental Association’s brushing and cavity prevention tips.
Taking care of your teeth and your children’s teeth is an important part of keeping yourself healthy. The American Dental Association says “Oral hygiene, just like diet and exercise, should be factored together when teaching children how to keep themselves healthy.” Let’s begin with brushing.
Brushing teeth twice a day with a soft bristled brush is a good start. Be sure to use a toothbrush that fits the size of the mouth (i.e. child’s size toothbrush for child’s mouth). For young children,
use a toothbrush and plain water when teeth start to appear. For children over 2, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste with fluoride. Continue to assist your children until they are about six or seven years old. Encourage children and other family members to brush their teeth for about 2 minutes. This is a long time when you are brushing. There are toothbrushes that play music for two
minutes, sand timers that last for two minutes or you can simply use a timer on your cell phone.
Toothbrushes should be replaced every 3-4 months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. Worn and fraying toothbrushes don’t do a good job of cleaning teeth. Be sure to use toothpaste with fluoride which strengthens tooth enamel.
Flossing should begin as soon as two teeth begin to touch. Young children will need you to continue flossing for them until you are comfortable that they no longer need your assistance. Your dentist will be able to inform you if your child is brushing and flossing properly.
For adolescent children, reminders may be needed about continuing good oral hygiene habits and making nutritious food and drink choices.
Do visit your dentist twice a year for regular check-ups and professional cleanings.
If you begin good oral hygiene at an early age, your children will be more likely to continue those good habits as they grow up.