Cavities form when too much sugar is eaten without enough brushing and flossing to remove the sugar that leads to decay. Children may not know that brushing and flossing is so important to their oral health, or they may struggle with the desire to do these habits. Here are a few games and tips that can help make brushing and flossing more fun so that these habits are done more often!
Why Is Your Oral Health Important?
The National Institutes of Health reports that tooth decay (cavities) is the most “common, prevalent disease” in both children and adults. Gum disease is a close second, affecting an estimated 64.7 million American adults. The sad part about these two diseases is that they lead to tooth loss and a poorer quality of life even though they are 100% preventable.
Tooth decay can happen as soon as an infant gets their first tooth, which is why brushing starts then. Parents will need to do this for small children until about age 3 or 4 when they are able to brush and floss themselves with supervision. Unfortunately, 42% of children 11 and under have cavities. By adulthood, about 92% of people have had cavities. So yes, your oral health is very important and you want to follow the basics every single day and get your kids to as well.
The Basics: What You Should Be Doing
Brushing only takes a few minutes of your day. Two minutes twice a day to be exact, according to recommendations by the American Dental Association. Make sure you use fluoride toothpaste that can help strengthen and protect your teeth as you brush. Brush your teeth in circular motions, back and forth and all over to get every surface of your tooth.
Brushing is one of the best ways you can love your teeth each day and one of the best ways to prevent oral health diseases. However, there is about 40% of tooth surfaces that brushing simply can’t reach. That is why we also tell patients to floss their teeth every single day. One is simply not complete without the other.
Floss 1-2 times a day, making sure to use new floss each time. You need about 18 inches of floss so that every few teeth get a new section of floss. Make sure to replace your toothbrush every 3 months or when the bristles become frayed so that your brushing is actually effective. To know the specifics of what you should be doing for your mouth, or what your child needs to be doing to avoid tooth decay and gum issues, schedule a dental checkup with our office.
Games for Brushing and Flossing
No matter your age, you can benefit from the basics of oral hygiene every single day. From infants to the oldest people on the planet, brushing and flossing are absolutely essential to having good oral health. You’ll have to do the brushing and flossing for infants once they get their first tooth until they’re about 3 or 4. After that, here are a few games to get kids to brush and floss on their own:
- Let children choose their own toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss.
- Encourage toothpastes/brushes that are bright and colorful, making brushing and flossing more exciting.
- Set a timer for 2 minutes and make it a game to see how well your child can brush during that time limit. Do the same with flossing.
- Get apps for brushing and flossing on a phone or tablet that will walk your child through these habits for the amount of time they should be doing them. That way they can watch and do at the same time.
- Play a favorite song or video during the duration of brushing and flossing for your child. It can be something they can look forward to in order to get them to brush and floss.
- Let young children practice brushing and flossing on you to get a feel for how it is done.
- Make up charts for earning rewards such as extra playtime, reading time, extra parent time and more if they keep up on brushing and flossing. Give bonus rewards for extra oral hygiene care.
- Brush your teeth in the mirror as your child brushes. Play a mirroring game where they have to mirror all your movements and vice versa as they brush or floss.
- Use a 10-second sand timer and designate a section of the mouth for each 10 seconds. Your child must brush as fast and well as they can in each section of the mouth every time the timer is flipped.
Did you know that you need to visit the dentist at least twice a year? The American Dental Association recommends these dental visits every 6 months or even more frequently if you have gum disease or tooth decay. These are the only visits where you can know for sure if you are affected by oral diseases, so don’t skip them! Don’t let your children skip them! In fact, you can actually have a much easier time with brushing, flossing, dental work and more if your children start visiting the dentist when they are young. Starting in infancy will help them learn that those biannual dental visits are normal and nothing to fear.
Plus, we can check in at least twice a year to make sure brushing and flossing is happening like it should be to prevent early tooth loss, speech impediments caused by crooked teeth, other orthodontic issues and more. If you want some tips for brushing and flossing and getting your kids to do these oral health habits easier, call Dr. Evanson’s office at (720) 409-0008!
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