Many rules go sailing out the window over the summer. You know the ones. Bedtime, healthy eating, cleanliness. It’s a fact of life that with warmer weather, a less rigid routine, and a slower pace – there’s a more relaxed attitude towards some of the staples — at least for some families. With kids off to summer camps or sleepovers it can be easy for parents to neglect another important element of their child’s health– oral hygiene.
The Ontario Dental Association is asking parents to make this a priority and suggest an oral care kit should be on top of their kids sleep-away preparation list. This kit should include, a toothbrush, fluoride toothpaste and dental floss.
WhereParentsTalk.com spoke with Dr. Lynn Tomkins, President of the Ontario Dental Association to get her advice.
“It’s important for parents to make tooth brushing a fun activity. First, have your child choose his or her own toothbrush. Some toothbrushes even play a song while you brush! Secondly, establish a routine where you and your child brush your teeth together. Your child will learn good brushing habits from watching you brush,” says Tomkins.
Many parents might not be aware of the serious consequences that could arise from their children neglecting their teeth. Tomkins explains that tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease, five times more common than asthma in children.
“Tooth decay, if left untreated, can lead to infection, pain, chewing problems and malnutrition,” says Tomkins. “To prevent tooth decay, children and parents need to make sure they are brushing and flossing properly, getting regular examinations by a dentist, and eating healthy snacks (crunchy fruits like apples, cheese, and nuts if the child does not have allergies.)”
So how does a parent know where to start? With endless toothbrushes to choose from in the shopping aisle the process may feel overwhelming.
Tomkins suggests, “the right toothbrush for a child has a small head so it’s easier to move around inside your child’s mouth. The toothbrush should have soft bristles, and should fit comfortably in your child’s hand.”
WhereParentsTalk.com asked Tomkins to help explain each stage of a child’s development that may require different cleaning methods:
Brushing Baby Teeth
Infants can get cavities just like older children and adults. Following all feedings, you should clean your baby’s mouth, gums and teeth. If your infant’s teeth are not large enough for an infant toothbrush, use a piece of gauze, or a wet facecloth to wipe the mouth, gums and teeth. And if your baby normally falls asleep while feeding, brush his or her mouth, gums and teeth before feeding.
Young Children’s Teeth
For children, it’s important that they brush twice a day. Your children’s teeth should also be brushed after eating sugary or sticky foods like raisins. Tooth brushing should last two to three minutes to effectively clean the teeth’s surfaces. Flossing is important, too. You should begin flossing your child’s teeth when the teeth start to touch each other, at around the age of two when the second molars erupt and touch the teeth in front of them.
“The bottom line, though, is that different children have different needs. It’s important to discuss your child’s brushing regimen and oral health needs with a dentist,” says Tomkins.
Dr. Tomkins tooth brushing tips for parents & kids:
1. Make tooth brushing fun by asking your child to pick out his or her own toothbrush. A new toothbrush should be boughtused every three months.
2. Brush teeth at least twice daily, for two to three minutes. Make sure you brush every part of your teeth in a gentle, circular motion. Don’t forget the insides of the teeth near the tongue and roof of mouth.
3. Floss teeth at least once a day. Flossing cleans between the teeth and below the gum line, areas that the toothbrush can’t reach. Without floss, up to 35 percent of your tooth surface is not cleaned.
Be sure to visit The Ontario Dental Association’s website at www.youroralhealth.ca for important information and helpful oral hygiene tips. They have lots of great tips and helpful information for parents!