Good oral hygeine, along with a healthy diet, is extremely important to help prevent cavities and gum disease. The following recommendations can help make sure your entire family maintains great oral health!
1. Brush at least twice a day! Brushing every morning and night helps keep teeth clean and minimizes the amount of time food and plaque stay on teeth. Night brushing is actually even more important than brushing in the morning!
2. Brush longer (not harder). Brushing for at least 2 minutes is much better for teeth and gums than scrubbing hard for a shorter amount of time. Brushing too hard can actually be harmful to teeth and gums. Using a timer (for example: a two minute sand timer) can be a great way to make sure your kids are brushing long enough.
3. Use a soft toothbrush. We only recommend the use of soft toothbrushes. Do not purchase medium or hard/firm bristles from the store. If you purchase a toothbrush and don't know if the bristles are too hard, just feel them. If they feel very stiff, don't use it to brush teeth!
4. Electric toothbrushes are great! Any age can benefit from the use of an electric toothbrush as they do most of the work. Just make sure the toothbrush has soft bristles. If your child is not accepting of an electric toothbrush, don't worry about it! You can still do a great job with a manual toothbrush.
5. Floss, floss, floss! It is important to floss every day to prevent gum disease and cavities between teeth.
6. Fluoride toothpaste can be beneficial to help prevent dental decay. Fluoride works to make the enamel (outside layer) of teeth harder. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends introducing fluoride toothpaste at about age 1. When a child is this young and unable to spit, a very tiny amount of toothpaste is enough (about the size of a peice of rice). Once a child is able to spit, you can start using a little more toothpaste, but still a small amount (a small smear or about the size of a lentil). If you do not want to use a fluoride toothpaste with yoru child, a Xylitol toothpaste can be beneficial as it can help make cavity causing bacteria weaker or there are prescription toothpastes available, like MI paste, without fluoride that can make teeth more cavity resistant.
7. Mouthwash is typically not necessary for most children and teenagers. If your child is more prone to cavities, a fluoride rinse, like ACT, can be beneficial. Make sure your child is able to spit well prior to use of any mouthwash as it is important they do not swallow it.
8. If your child has braces, great oral hygiene is imperative to help prevent cavities and gum disease. Anyone with braces or other orthodontic appliances is actually more prone to develooing cavities and gum disease. Use of floss threaders or other flossing aids will be necessary. A WaterPik can also be extremely beneficial to anyone undergoing orthodontic treatment.