Do you know the number one contributing factor for cavities in your child’s mouth? If you said sweets, you are on the right track! Dental plaque is a buildup of oral bacteria that feast on carbohydrates, releasing acids that break down tooth enamel.
The minerals in saliva, (calcium and phosphate) along with the fluoride in toothpaste and tap water can boost enamel health by replacing minerals lost from acid attacks. Still, continuous acid attacks weaken and destroy enamel, creating tiny holes (cavities) in your child’s chompers. Left untreated, cavities can make their way into the dentin layer below tooth enamel.
Along with sugar and acids, tooth decay can arise from lax daily oral hygiene care, a lack of preventative fluoride protection and even dry mouth. Remember, saliva is the first line of defense against tooth-destroying oral bacteria so keeping your child well hydrated with water instead of juices or sports drinks is important.
Brushing for the Win
If, like most kids, your child spent a good chunk of October enjoying Halloween parties and trick or treat laden sweets, then celebrating National Brush Day on November 1st (and throughout the month) is the perfect way to help your child refocus on taking good care of their smile. You can even find ways for them to be thankful for their teeth!
November is a good time to help your child relearn proper brushing techniques while making brushing fun. Help your child feel more motivated to care for teeth and gums by practicing good daily oral hygiene as their mouth continues to develop with new and permanent teeth coming in all the time.
Limit Acidic Foods
Brushing at least twice a day helps limit harmful bacteria that would otherwise thrive on sugars and leave behind acidic waste as a by-product, setting the stage for cavities. Encourage your child to brush and floss every single day while limiting the sugar in their diet. Diligent at-home care, combined with routine dental cleanings and decreasing acidic foods and drinks all help your child’s smile thrive! These foods should be kept to a minimum:
- Citrus fruits — lemons, limes, grapefruits, tangerines and oranges
- Apples, grapes, peaches, pomegranates, blueberries and pineapples
- Fruit juices and sodas (both regular and diet)
- Tomatoes and tomato juice
- Jams and jellies
We think it’s pretty cool that National Brush Day falls on the day after Halloween, as it makes it a great time to refocus your child’s attention on their dental hygiene routine. It also gives you an opportunity to monitor their sweets intake during the rest of the upcoming holidays. Making sure they stay on top of their daily oral hygiene during these festive months can help your child start the new year with better oral health.
Celebrating National Brush Day
-Throw a family toothbrushing party: Play games that make toothbrushing fun.
-Make a brush station: This station allows your kids to brush their teeth. The winner gets a new toothbrush or an unusual-flavored toothpaste, like bacon, mango, chocolate or wasabi… depending on your child’s or teen’s taste.
-Let them choose a new toothbrush: Whether it’s a real toothbrush or a toy one for a small child, letting them pick out one that strikes their fancy can be fun (you can provide options that they can pick from so their teeth are still getting the care they need).
-Make toothbrushes out of craft items: You can use cardboard, foam, felt, yarn, glitter and glue to make cool toothbrushes to “brush” their favorite toy’s teeth!
-Introduce a toothbrushing app: Brush DJ, Brush Up, Disney Magic Timer, Tiny Dentist, Chomper Chums, Heroes of Hygiene, etc. are fun ways to help them brush their teeth. These can be downloaded onto your iPad or iPhone from the Google App Store.
As the holiday season ramps up, we invite you to make your child’s oral hygiene routine fun and memorable for them. After all, they are developing habits to last a lifetime. We invite you to have fun with your kids, by enjoying National Brush Day throughout the month if you like! Your children’s smiles are worth it!