Brushing Up On Back-To-School Tips For Cavity-Free Teeth

By: Rosie Torres, R.D.H.

If your kids brush their teeth only once per day, that’s definitely better than not all. But when is the best time to brush? In the morning or at night? 

Brushing In the Morning

Toothbrushing should be done both in the morning after eating breakfast and in the evening after eating dinner and any snacks. When kids brush in the morning, it takes away any “morning breath” from germies that have been active during the night. It also eliminates that all-too-familiar “fuzzy” feeling in your mouth when you wake up. 

Brushing At Night

However, if you absolutely have to choose which is a better time, brushing at night is the winner! Toothbrushing at night after all meals and snacks removes any sugar, acids and leftover pieces of food from the teeth and gums It ensures that your child’s teeth will be protected throughout the night. A lot of children are also mouth-breathers. This means that their mouth is dried out as they sleep, creating the perfect party environment for germs and bacteria to live and thrive. 

The American Dental Association recommends that both children (and adults) brush their teeth for 2 minutes 2x a day.  A good way to teach children to remember this is to use the term 2 X 2. There’s even a website dedicated to this! The Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Smiles has a lot of tips, two-minute videos and even a brushing checklist to help your kids get on track.

So, are your kids getting a passing grade in brushing? Here are some helpful oral hygiene routine tips to brush up on to make sure they do!

Brush Kid’s Teeth for Them

The younger your children are, the more likely they need help learning how to brush correctly. As you brush your child’s teeth, explain to them what you are doing and why you are doing it. This will help your child to both learn how to properly brush, as well as to think about why it is important. 

Demonstrate Brushing on Yourself

When kids absolutely refuse to brush, offer to brush with them! Kids are little copycats, and they might become more interested in brushing if they see you doing it. While you are brushing, explain to them what you are doing and why. Be sure to be positive and upbeat about the process and pretend that it is the most fun thing to do. This can make your kids more excited about their own oral hygiene. 

Brushing on Their Own

Once your pre-schooler is able to hold their toothbrush correctly, have them brush in front of a mirror. But parents should still supervise them until they are at least seven years old. Let them brush on their own, but follow up with an additional “go-over” to remove leftover plaque. Remember, if you don’t let them do it on their own now, they will have a harder time learning how to do it correctly when they get older.

Unfortunately when your child is brushing on their own, they might get lazy or simply forget to brush. Here are some common toothbrushing excuses and how to deal with them…

  • “I don’t have time to brush in the morning.” Help your child create a new morning routine that gives them ample time to properly brush their teeth. After all, they only need an extra two minutes! If your child likes to sleep in past their alarm, create a new incentive for them to wake up on time. 
  • “I’m too tired to brush at night.” Before your child’s bedtime, be sure to ask them if they remembered to brush. Gentle reminders will ensure that they build a healthy habit of brushing twice per day. 
  • “But I don’t like to brush my teeth.” Let your child choose their own toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste flavor. By giving your child control over these choices, it may make them more excited to brush. This Disney Magic Timer App can make brushing more fun with its cute videos, music and virtual stickers. 
  • “I forgot to brush.” Help your child remember when to brush by using a visual chart. Reward your kids with stickers to place on the chart after they have brushed. When a certain amount of stickers is placed, give them a fun prize to reinforce them to continue their healthy habits. 

If you follow all of the above tips, your child will surely get an A+ in brushing! Also, don’t forget to schedule an appointment every 6 months for a thorough dental exam and cleaning. This will ensure your kids are on the right track.  As children get older, they may need orthodontic treatment as well. 

We at Gallery57Dental hope that these toothbrushing tips are helpful. But if your child is still having trouble brushing their teeth, or just doesn’t like it, let us know and we can help! Our dentists and hygienists are experts in helping families develop easy homecare routines to keep both baby and adult teeth strong and healthy. To schedule a visit, call us today at (212) 246-8700.

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