Play the game. It’ll pay off…
Now is the time to introduce the “Tooth Fairy”, because baby teeth are falling out and permanent teeth are growing in. What a thrilling passage for parents and child when those baby teeth are gone. We celebrate the tooth’s demise with toys and money secretly placed under the child’s pillow in the name of the “Tooth Fairy.”
Meanwhile, the permanent teeth come in without fanfare. From the start, permanent teeth are taken for granted even though they will be expected to perform for many decades.
We often hear parents saying, “I don’t see how my child’s mouth is going to hold those big teeth. They look so much bigger than the baby teeth.” This looks awkward, “ugly duckling”, a stage all kids must pass through.
At this stage, kids’ schedules pick up after school with activities and sports. Weekly mornings get rushed and hectic for families and the bathrooms are a busy place. In response to “Did you brush your teeth?” kids reply, “Mom, I’m late. I don’t have time to brush.”
What can you do? The best answer is to get your children up 10 minutes earlier and make them brush.
Our “get real” answer
Set a firm time for brushing before bedtime. No skipping allowed. If your kids brush every night, skipping the morning once in awhile will not jeopardize their oral health.
Your child’s tooth care
By now your child is probably able to brush his or her teeth on their own. But you will still need to supervise to make sure he or she is doing a thorough job. Ask the dentist or hygienist if your child is ready to use an electric toothbrush. It shows your support and rewards the child for doing such a good job with tooth care.
Anytime your child’s mouth is not clean, it becomes a potential site for decay or gum disease. If your child has gingivitis (infection of the gums) you may see puffy gums and notice a little blood the first few times that you floss his or her teeth.
With daily flossing, the gums will get healthier and the bleeding will stop. If the problem persist, call your dentist. By the time your child is nine or 10, he or she should be able to floss on his/her own.
Involve your child in the flossing process
Position yourself so you can see your child’s teeth. It’s easiest to work from behind with your child’s head tilted backward toward you. It only makes sense that if it hurts to floss, kids won’t do it. So floss gently, hugging the tooth, sliding the floss up and down and under the gum. Avoid cutting into the gums with the floss.
Sink your teeth into this
Around age 12, when boys and girls start to get sweet on each other, children worry about bad breath. Tell them that brushing their tongue will help. Or buy a tongue scraper. If the bad breath persists, consult your dentist or hygienist for an evaluation. It may be due to allergies or post-nasal drip.