As a parent, you not only have to keep on top of your own oral hygiene; you have to supervise your kid's brushing and flossing as well. It can be a thankless task, and you may find yourself wondering if it has to be this hard.
Here are four products to help make the process easier, more fun, or more effective.
1. Water Flosser or Floss Aids
Using aids such as a floss pick or floss threaders may be crucial for some flossing situations, such as when your child has braces. And a water flosser can play a role as well.
Obviously, you wouldn't want to give a water flosser to a toddler. But if you have an older child who wears braces or who just finds flossing a real chore (whether because of coordination problems or a strong gag reflex, for example), a water flosser could be a real boon. You can even get models designed especially for kids.
2. Plaque-Disclosing Products
Plaque-disclosing tablets can be a real eye opener and very helpful for kids. They not only show which nooks and crannies still hide plaque after a brushing but can also serve as a visual reminder that plaque is a real threat and not just something that parents worry about. Plus, plaque dye comes in fun colors, making teeth light up in blue or pink, for example.
You can use plaque-disclosing tablets on an occasional basis (say once per month) to give your child something to work towards. Or you can use a daily plaque-disclosing product, such as a toothpaste, so that your child has a daily visual reminder of which areas to focus on while brushing.
3. Tongue Cleaner
The textured surface of your tongue makes a great habitat for thousands of bacteria to thrive, and your child's tongue is no different (although a bit smaller). Brushing or scraping the tongue at each brushing session can help remove some of the bacterial overgrowth in the mouth. Plus, teaching your child to clean his or her tongue can become a habit that lasts a lifetime.
While some people simply brush their tongue, it can be difficult to get all the gunk off this way, especially with a small, soft, child's toothbrush. Using a colorful tongue scraper instead can be a quick and easy job that takes only a couple of seconds, making oral hygiene easier and perhaps even more fun.
4. Xylitol-Sweetened Treats
Gum, candy, and other treats that are sweetened exclusively with xylitol can make a great tooth-friendly incentive for kids. As any parent knows, it's not always easy to motivate kids to do what's good for them. Offering your child a piece of candy after they've brushed may seem counterproductive, but if it contains only xylitol and no sugar or starches, it could be beneficial.
Although the science is still relatively new, xylitol is considered to be beneficial to oral health for a couple of reasons. First, it helps reduce the ability of acid-producing bacteria to harm the teeth. It does this by getting the bacteria to eat it, but since it's not a real sugar (xylitol is a sugar alcohol), the bacteria can't process it and produce enamel-destroying acids.
Second, xylitol makes it harder for bacteria to form plaque on the tooth surfaces. Plaque colonies provide a place for bacteria to hide and multiply, so reducing the amount of plaque can improve overall oral health. If you decide to use xylitol-sweetened candy as an incentive, check the label for any bacteria-feeding ingredients such as sugars, starches, or other carbs.
These four types of products can help you and your child have more fun at toothbrushing time and get your child's teeth cleaned more effectively. For more information on good oral hygiene habits for kids or to schedule an appointment, contact Bay Pediatric Dentistry today.