When our kids are young we help with the daily brushing and this way as can be fairly certain their hygiene is being well taken care of.
When they get to a certain age and have to handle this task themselves, you can’t always be with them and so, you are never sure they are brushing as they should.
There are tooth brushing mistakes we might be making as adults and it’s almost fairly certain that our kids are making them.
The problem with these tooth brushing mistakes is that they can leave your kid’s teeth prone to tooth cavities, tooth decay, and gum problems (gingivitis).
What Causes Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay in kids is quite common and 1 in 5 kids will experience this by the time they are aged 5 to 11 years.
The tooth enamel might be the strongest substance in the body, however, having unhealthy lifestyle habits like eating too many sugary foods, coupled with a few tooth brushing mistakes your kids might unknowingly be practicing, will gradually erode this enamel to cause tooth cavities.
Oral diseases affect kids of all ages worldwide. Here are some stats from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999–2002):
“41% of children aged 2 to 11 years were affected by dental caries in their primary teeth while 42% of those aged 6 to 19 years had it in their permanent teeth.”
Tooth decay occurs when the bacteria in your mouth mixes with sugar to cause an acid strong enough to attack the tooth surface or enamel.
When kids frequently snack on sugary treats and don’t brush or clean their teeth often, it can lead to tooth decay.
13 Tooth Brushing Mistakes that Can Lead to Tooth Caries (Cavities)
1) Using one toothbrush for too long
This tooth brushing mistake we make. Most of us never plan to use a toothbrush that long. However, time flies by fast and before we know it, the kids have had that same toothbrush for over three months.
While this might be a slight on our part, it still is not without consequences.
You see, the recommended number of times you should use a toothbrush is 200 times or 2-3 months of brushing in the mornings and evenings and that’s because, after this time, the toothbrush becomes brittle and is unable to properly clean the teeth, leaving the child prone to tooth diseases.
2) You don’t brush for long enough
The average person brushes for 40-45 seconds and research has proven this time is not long enough to offer the teeth the protection it needs.
You should brush for at least two minutes which is the time the fluoride needs to get to work in eliminating acids and germs as well as protecting your teeth.
Kids can be trained to stay this long when brushing and repeated often, our older kids will also come to accept that you should brush for over three minutes to get the benefit of brushing.
3) You don’t use a toothpaste with fluoride
A lot of natural kinds of toothpaste are being promoted, however, these toothpaste are without fluoride, making you lose out on the all-important function of cavity protection.
Fluoride helps protect your teeth (and bones) and also strengthens your tooth enamel. It also makes it resistant to tooth decay so you want to get started on fluoride toothpaste.
4) You rinse with water
Almost everyone rinses with water when they brush until you discover doing so is one of the tooth brushing mistakes that increases their risks of tooth caries (cavities).
While rinsing with water might get your mouth clean when you brush, it also washes away most of the fluoride in your mouth before it has gotten the chance to work on your teeth.
A good alternative is to have your child spit the toothpaste out and leave it at that. However, if this makes them uncomfortable, then encourage them to rinse with a fluoride mouthwash.
5) You store your toothbrush in the bathroom
Storing your toothbrush in the toilet is very convenient and this is probably why a lot of us do it.
However, research has found this to be an unhealthy practice as most toothbrushes stored in the bathroom have human faeces on them since the water from the toilet bowl sprays in all directions when you flush.
6) You keep your toothbrush covered
Keeping your toothbrush covered in the bathroom might seem like a good way to prevent faeces and other bacteria from getting on them, but it sadly isn’t.
This habit is neither healthy nor recommended as the toilet is most often humid, which makes it possible for bacteria to breed on your toothbrush.
You should store your toothbrush away from the toilet; somewhere that will keep the toothbrush safe, but will also make it easy to get to it when needed.
7) You don’t brush your tongue
Kids are especially guilty of this. Unless supervised or taught the right way to brush, most are contented just brushing the surface of their teeth. Whatever bacteria escaped the cleaning tsunami when you brushed will likely get transferred right back unto the teeth and gum once you’re done.
You want to encourage your kid to use a tongue cleaner to gently scrub at their gum while they brush, but if you can’t get one, then your toothbrush should do just fine.
8) You don’t brush the correct way
One of the tooth brushing mistakes most of us make, is brushing in back and forth strokes. The ideal way to brush the teeth is in circular motions as this makes it possible for the toothbrush to clean between your teeth.
Your child might not get this brushing technique, so you want to show them how it’s done and repeat it a few times too until they get the hang of it.
9) You brush immediately after eating
You might want to sleep right after dinner, but research has shown brushing immediately after you eat is bad for your teeth; very bad.
You should wait for at least 20 – 30 minutes after a meal to brush as brushing earlier actually pushes the acid produced from the food you eat deeper into your teeth’ enamel, causing more harm.
In the meantime, encourage your kid to rinse their mouth with water. If they can, they want to go a step further by gargling to dislodge whatever food particle might be stuck between their teeth.
Doing so ensures this food does not produce any acid that starts to eat at their enamel.
10) You use a hard toothbrush
Using a toothbrush that’s too hard is not just uncomfortable, but will likely also injure your gum and damage your teeth.
Hard toothbrush use and or brushing too hard over time have both been known to promote receding gum, enamel wear, and tooth sensitivity.
Your child’s toothbrush should be soft enough as to not hurt them, but hard enough that it gets the job done.
Yeah, getting that perfect toothbrush can be a task, but it’s always worth the effort.
11) You brush too many times a day
Encouraging your kids to brush several times a day, especially if they have had a gum issue or tooth cavities, might be counter-productive.
Dentists recommend brushing just twice daily. You should brush in the mornings before meals and again at night just before you go to bed. Brushing more than twice will actually erode your tooth enamel and damage your gum.
12) Not brushing enough
On the flip side of brushing too often is not brushing enough.
Seeing as kids take a lot of sweets and sugary foods, you want to ensure they brush the recommended number of times daily; mornings and just before you turn out for the night.
13) Not Flossing Regularly
Flossing helps to eliminate plaques that build up between the teeth. These plaques are harmful as they can lead to gum disease, tooth infection, tooth decay, and tooth loss.
You should strive to floss at least one tooth daily and do so just before you brush.
Most of the tooth brushing mistakes kids make are caused by the adults in their lives. Granted we might not have set out to cause these mistakes, but they affect our kids nonetheless.
Besides the fact we get them the toothbrush they use and are also responsible for storing these toothbrushes, kids mirror our tooth brushing habits and will brush the way we do.
Getting kids to adopt the right brushing techniques is quite easy and you want to get started on these.