The Importance of Tooth Brushing

Now that Halloween is over, let's donate all that candy and get down to good tooth brushing! Did you know that November 1st is National Brush Day?

According to a report by the Ad Council, which was based on government studies, almost 75% of kids frequently forget to brush their teeth. Many years of research has shown that good brushing habits will prevent or reduce the amount of tooth decay a child experiences. It is therefore the parents' or caregiver's responsibility to see that teeth are brushed at least twice a day. In children 8 years old or younger we advise an adult to actually do the brushing for the child at bedtime - even if a child can brush on their own, it should be supervised.

Teeth need to be brushed from the time they erupt into the mouth, even if no toothpaste is used. If a child is resistant to brushing we recommend "taking turns", allowing the child to go first with the adult following. The excuse many parents use is "he doesn't like it" or "he doesn't let me in his mouth". It is important that they be persistent and show the child that brushing is important. Even if it takes weeks to make the child comfortable and cooperative, the caregiver or parent must make the effort every day. As for toothpaste, skip the "training" pastes or kiddie flavored pastes. Children just like to suck them off the brush and swallow. We recommend using a small amount of a mild adult toothpaste as soon as a child can spit. Use about ½ of a pea size. They may complain that the flavor is too minty or "spicy" but they are sure to spit it out.

Most people are unaware that tooth decay is the most common childhood disease. And yes, it is a disease! Untreated cavities can cause fever, pain, infection and even require hospitalization. According to statistics gathered by the National Institute of Health, children miss more than 51 million school hours each year due to dental decay.

The American Dental Association recognizes The Partnership for Healthy Mouths and Healthy Lives, which is a coalition of more than 35 dental organizations working with the Ad Council to educate the public on the importance of proper dental care for children. ADA publicatons call the mouth the gateway to a person's overall health. Many parents and even health professionals underestimate the impact of dental health on a person's well-being. For information on Kids' Healthy Mouth Campaign and instructions on good oral hygiene techniques please visit 2min2x.org. Happy Brushing!