Tomorrow is the first ever National Brush Day—an effort to reinforce the importance of children’s oral health and promote good tooth brushing habits. The day after Halloween is a perfect time to talk about healthy teeth after a night of children eating lots of sticky sweets.
Dental decay is the most common chronic childhood disease in America. Less than half of children currently brush their teeth as often or as long as dental health experts recommend. Toddlers and young school age children can develop dental problems, including cavities in their “baby teeth” from poor dental hygiene. Many young children never visit the dentist because parents often think that the “baby teeth” will fall out anyhow and care of them is not important.
Poor childhood dental hygiene can lead to infections in the mouth, gum and face, unnecessary pain, and premature tooth loss. In some cases, this can affect the appearance of the child’s face and jaw alignment into adulthood. Premature tooth loss can also allow permanent teeth to misalign, necessitating extensive and expensive orthodontic procedures in the teen and adult years.
National Brush Day is an extension of the Kids’ Health Mouths public service advertising (PSA) campaign designed to supply parents with simple ways to get their kids brushing their teeth for just two minutes, twice a day; which can significantly reduce their risk of oral pain and dental decay.
There are several bad habits that can lead to and exacerbate poor oral health in children. Allowing a baby a bottle in bed at night time causes sugary deposits to linger on teeth all night. Deposits quickly build up as plaque that leads to tooth decay. Only water in a bottle should be allowed in bed. Gradually switch out the milk for water over a 1-2 week period.
About 80% of children suck their thumb. Most outgrow the habit by age 3-4 but some kids (and a few adults) continue the habit. Prolonged thumb sucking can lead to a malformed the upper palate, especially in young children whose bodies change rapidly with growth. Break the thumb sucking early.
Ingesting toothpaste can lead to fluoride poisoning. While fluoride addition to toothpaste helps strengthen tooth enamel, toothpaste should never be swallowed. Kids also tend to glob too much toothpaste on their toothbrush, which makes it harder to spit all of it out, and increases the chance of ingestion. Parents need to control the toothpaste tube while teaching proper toothpaste dispersal.
Brushing incorrectly or too little will not keep a child’s teeth healthy. Proper brushing technique needs to be demonstrated and practiced daily. Teeth should be brushed 2-3 times a day, particularly before bedtime. Children need child sizes toothbrushes with soft bristles so they can reach all the teeth in their small mouths. Flossing also needs to be taught and practiced to develop good habits. If string floss is too difficult for a child to manipulate, floss picks are a great alternative, and easier to use for many kids.
Visit the website http://2min2x.org/ for lots of information about chil dental health and tips for getting kids to brush correctly. Click http://2min2x.org/watch-brush to watch some 2 minute tooth care videos- the perfect amount of brushing time. You can also text “BRUSH” to 30364 to receive children’s oral health tips on your cell phone via SMS messages. This is a great reward for kids.
Visit a pediatric friendly dentist to have your child’s teeth checked by age 2. Follow your dentist’s advice for your child’s best oral health care.
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