My kids have always been good at brushing their teeth. They understand how important it is as we have taught them from a young age and have supervised brushing, making sure they have a good technique. Now they are older, they are supervised less often and I think that the quality of their brushing may have dropped. My kids always seem to be in a hurry to do something else, usually to play with their LEGO or play a board game. As a result I think that they sometimes don't brush their teeth as long as they should. So what to do?
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Step 1: Why Don't Children Brush Their Teeth Properly?
Brushing teeth is similar to handwashing in that children don't see any immediate results. This can mean that it often isn't done properly. Germs and plaque are both invisible to the naked eye, so it is easy for children and adults alike to not wash their hands or brush their teeth properly.
I thought to myself, if only the children could see the plaque they would understand what it was they were trying to achieve and would know when they have done a good job. I realised that it it is possible to buy plaque disclosing tablets which show up different types of of plaque. The ones I bought turn a different colour for new and old plaque. This is useful for working out which areas are being chronically neglected and which might have been brushed well in the last day or two but haven't been brushed properly today.
Step 2: After Using the Plaque Disclosing Tablets
My children were fascinated to see the areas where the plaque was left behind. I explained that it has bacteria living in it which can cause teeth to rot and gums to become infected. New research shows that the bacteria from gum infections (ginigivitis) probably causes heart attacks, strokes, Parkinson's and many other diseases. This means it is important to maintain your oral hygiene and floss regularly.
The children brushed their teeth much better after using the tablets. You can repeat the tablets again if you think standards are starting to slip.
Step 3: Give Children a Disclosing Tablet
Give your kids a disclosing tablets after brushing to see how effective they are brushing has been. Follow the instructions on the box and get them to give them a good chew. My kids loved them because they tasted like sweets. Ask them to look in the mirror or take a photograph and show them how their teeth look. Explain that the coloured areas are where tooth-brushing has not been effective and where they need to brush longer or harder.
Step 4: Keep Brushing Until All the Coloured Areas Are Gone
Ask your children to keep brushing until all of the coloured areas are gone. You can then let them know that is how they need to brush their teeth in order to make sure that they are properly cleaned.
Step 5: When Should I Replace My Toothbrush?
Regularly check their toothbrushes aren't worn out. The way to tell is to look at the brush from behind and if the bristles are visible then you need a new one. Dentists recommend replacing toothbrushes every six months anyway.
Make sure you are using the right toothpaste for your children's age otherwise it might contain too much fluoride which is not good for them. This toothpaste has 1440 parts per million of fluoride which is the right amount for age 6-8.