Teaching your Kids the Importance of Brushing their Teeth
Children should make it a habit to brush their teeth twice a day everyday with fluoride toothpaste. This keeps their teeth clean as well as maintains the health of their gums. The fluoride in the toothpaste plays an important role in remineralising and strengthening the enamel, which is the first outer layer of the tooth. The quantity of fluoride present in toothpastes is a small amount and will not harm your child if they swallow small amounts of it by mistake.
Children up to 6 years of ages should use children’s toothpaste and their tooth brushing should be supervised by their parents. I always advise parents to let their child have a go at brushing his/her teeth first before the parent takes over so that they develop their skills at brushing.
Children of 6 years of age and above can switch to using adult’s toothpaste as it has a higher concentration of fluoride.
A commonly asked question by parents is ‘when should my child start flossing?’. A good time for your child to start flossing is when all his/her adult teeth have come through. This will vary from one person to the next but the average age is 12 to 13 years of age.
Another frequently asked question is “should my child use an electric or manual toothbrush?” This really depends on individual preference. An electric toothbrush will clean your teeth more thoroughly if you do not have the skills at brushing your teeth correctly with a manual toothbrush. If your child gets used to using an electric toothbrush at an early age then he/she will not develop their skills at using a manual toothbrush. So my advice to parents would be to let your children learn how to brush their teeth with a manual toothbrush initially and then they could start using an electric toothbrush in their teens.
Here are some easy to follow tips on tooth brushing:
- Brush your teeth for 2 minutes (most people underestimate this and brush for less than 2 minutes)
- Use a small headed toothbrush (the smaller the head the easier it will be to reach all corners of your mouth and teeth)
- The bristles of the brush should be soft to medium
- Apply gentle pressure when brushing your teeth to avoid abrading your teeth (it is a myth that the harder you brush, the cleaner your teeth will be)
- Brushing twice to three times a day is sufficient, do not over-do it to avoid tooth abrasion
- The best technique for tooth brushing is by holding your brush at a 45 degree angle to your gums and making small circular movements as you go along from tooth to tooth. Brush the outer and inner tooth surfaces, back molars and your tongue.