Dental hygiene is important, not only because your teeth are essential in the digestive process, to make sure you get the food and nutrients you need, but also because having sickly teeth can lead to overall poor health. Teaching your kids to brush their teeth appropriately can save them a lot of trouble in the future with the many problems that can arise.
Make sure your kids understand the importance of brushing on a regular basis. Teach them to brush at least twice a day, once in the morning to remove the overnight buildup of germs, and once at night to dismiss all the buildup from daily use. This will help reduce the likelihood of decay that causes cavities. Of course, you can't simply brush teeth without proper tools, so help them find a toothbrush that fits their mouths and is sturdy enough to do the job, and provide them with toothpaste that contains fluoride, as this acts as a strengthening agent for your teeth.
It also follows that, if your kids eat something sticky, like candy (which kids are prone to do), they should immediately brush their teeth afterward. Allowing the teeth to remain coated in the sugary substance only leads to further opportunities for teeth to weaken and decay.
Set a precedent for how long your kids should brush their teeth each time they do it. Many parents have used the Happy Birthday song as a guide, teaching their children to run through the song at least twice while brushing. This assures they spend enough time covering all of the surfaces of each tooth without brushing too long and endangering the enamel, which can wear down with too much brushing.
Of course, in order to brush their teeth properly, your kids have to do more than run the toothbrush in circles in the front of their mouth. Make sure they know that the hardest to reach spots are the most important ones, ensuring that they get back in the sides and back of their mouths, as well as the back sides of the teeth. The probability of getting a cavity is greatly reduced by assuring all areas of the mouth are reached.
Children should also learn that not only the teeth themselves need to be brushed during the chore. Brushing the tongue removes not only bacterial buildup but also reduces odor. It also keeps coatings on the tongue from rubbing on the teeth, which can again lead to health issues. Brushing the gum line is also important, as unhealthy gums can be swollen or recede, either of which causes your teeth distress. Often, a receding gum line leads to loose teeth, which swollen gums lead to bleeding when you brush teeth. Consistently brushing the gums keeps them healthy and reduces the chance of gum disease.
In addition to brushing their teeth, you should teach your children to use dental floss, as well as mouthwash. Dental floss reaches the areas between the teeth where toothbrush bristles can't, and mouthwash helps to clear the other surfaces inside your mouth (like the roof and inner cheeks) of decay-causing coatings.
When it comes to overall health, one of the most important lessons you can teach your kids is how to brush teeth regularly and properly. Take the time to make sure your children are set to take care of themselves in the future and can avoid non-routine trips to the dentist.