September 28, 2022

From ages 6 to 12, children lose their baby teeth and develop adult teeth that need to be maintained throughout their life. Proper dental care begins with healthy oral health habits that should start early in childhood. Poor oral health can lead to cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease that may advance into more serious issues. However, children can avoid dental issues by using proper brushing technique, flossing, and a maintaining a low-sugar diet.
Children should brush their teeth twice a day – once in the morning and once at night. Brushing teeth removes plaque, which is a soft layer of bacteria on the teeth that can cause tooth decay and gum issues. However, it is also essential that children use the correct toothpaste that keeps teeth strong and healthy. Children should apply a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste to their toothbrush. Fluoride toothpaste helps teeth become more resistant to acidic foods and drinks that can cause tooth decay and cavities to form. Fluoride is a natural mineral that is also found in tap water and is safe to consume and beneficial for oral health; however, it is not recommended that children swallow toothpaste after brushing due to the higher concentration of fluoride that could cause health issues.
During the brushing process, children may emphasize cleaning the front teeth rather than the back teeth. Ensure that children brush each side of all teeth, especially the molars – the large teeth in the back – which can accrue larger amounts of plaque due to their primary use of chewing food. After brushing and rinsing their mouth with water, children should floss to clean parts of the teeth that the brush is unable to reach. Flossing teeth helps to remove any food debris and plaque between the teeth and under the gums. Brushing teeth cleans approximately 70 percent of the surface area, leaving 30 percent uncleaned and potentially covered in plaque. It may require some practice and parental supervision to learn the proper technique, but flossing at least once a day can help to create a routine for children to continue throughout a lifetime.
Diet is also important in oral health. Consuming foods high in sugar can damage the teeth and lead to cavities or tooth decay. If a child eats a sweet treat that is high in sugar, it is recommended that they brush their teeth soon after to remove any leftover sugar.
A parent should emphasize brushing, flossing, and diet to their child to avoid any complications caused by cavities, tooth decay, or gum disease. Children also should visit their dentist at least twice per year, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, for a proper cleaning and to review overall oral health.

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