Posted February 28, 2012
Children with healthy teeth and gums have more than a glowing grin. Good oral health also contributes to their overall health, and may enhance their performance in school. Unfortunately, many children have problems with tooth decay. If problems are left untreated, they may experience unnecessary pain and infection, which can lead to problems eating, speaking, playing and learning.
Tooth decay affects more than 25 percent of American children 2 to 5 years old, and half of children 12 to 15 years old – that’s more than any other chronic infectious disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Parents and caregivers can help kids enjoy good oral health throughout life by following these dental care guidelines:
- Brush teeth at least twice daily, including at bedtime
- Use dental floss each day
- Rinse mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash designed for kids
- Avoid too many sugary snacks and drinks, sticky or starchy foods – especially at bedtime
Daily Care and Toothbrush Choices
It is also important to help kids learn how to use and take care of their toothbrushes. Here are some tips provided by the American Dental Association:
- Use a toothbrush style recommended by the dentist’s office – many kids like electric toothbrushes, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued an advisory warning about potential hazards concerning this particular style
- Brush your teeth at least two minutes each time you brush
- Rinse the toothbrush with warm water after each use and remove any toothpaste or debris
- Store the toothbrush standing up in a cup or toothbrush holder, making sure the other toothbrushes do not touch, and let it air dry
- Replace the toothbrush every three to four months, or when the bristles look worn or frayed; worn bristles are less effective in removing plaque from teeth and gums and actually can harm your gums
- Change your toothbrush after a cold, flu, mouth infection or sore throat, as germs can hide in the bristles and may result in reinfection
- Don’t share toothbrushes
If you have questions about caring for your child’s teeth or selecting the right toothbrush, contact your dentist or the American Dental Association office in your state.