After you eat, sugar bugs go crazy over the sugar on your teeth, like ants at a picnic. The sugar bugs turn the sugar into acids that eat away tooth enamel, causing holes called cavities. The sugar bugs also cause gingivitis, which is gum disease that can make your gums red, swollen, and sore. Your gums are the soft pink tissue in your mouth that hold your teeth in place.
If you don’t take care of your teeth, cavities and unhealthy gums will make your mouth very, very sore. Eating meals will be difficult. And you won’t feel like smiling so much.
HOW YOU CAN KEEP YOUR TEETH HEALTHY
Kids can take charge of their teeth by taking these steps:
Brush at least twice a day — after breakfast and before bedtime. If you can, brush a third time after lunch or after sweet snacks. Brushing properly breaks down plaque.
- Brush all of your teeth, not just the front ones. Spend some time on the teeth along the sides and in the back. Have your dentist show the best way to brush to get your teeth clean without damaging your gums.
- Take your time while brushing. Spend at least 2 or 3 minutes each time you brush. If you have trouble keeping track of the time, use a timer or play a recording of a song to help pass the time.
- Be sure your toothbrush has soft bristles (the package will tell you if they’re soft). You should get a new toothbrush every 3 months. Some toothbrushes come with bristles that change color when it’s time to change them.
- Ask your dentist if an antibacterial mouth rinse is a good fit.
- Floss your teeth, which is a very important way to keep them healthy. It feels weird the first few times you do it, but pretty soon you’ll be a pro. Take a length of dental floss and wrap it around your pointer fingers leaving a small section between unwrapped. Slip the dental floss that is unwrapped between your fingers between each tooth and along the gum line gently once a day. The floss gets rid of food that’s hidden where your toothbrush can’t get it, no matter how well you brush.
- Brushing your tongue can also help keep your breath fresh!
QUICK TIPS FOR PARENTS
Help Make Brushing and Flossing Fun and Easy:
- Brush your teeth together, taking turns brushing each others teeth
- Use toothbrush featuring a familiar cartoon character
- Sing the theme song from your child’s favorite cartoon or a nursery rhyme, while you brush their teeth
- Use toothpaste and mouth rinse that have pleasant flavors for sensitive taste buds
- Use syllables like “ahhhh” or “eeeeeee” to help your child open their mouth or move their lips away from their teeth while brushing.
When you teach a child something new at a young age, he will learn the task and continue it well into adulthood. Brushing and flossing has never been more important. Bring your child in to see their dentist as early as the first signs of teeth. Children, depending on their oral hygiene, should have dental appointments once every six months to one year.