How to get your kids to brush and floss

February is National Children's Dental Health Month. Developing good oral health habits at an early age is essential for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

Dental Care for Kids

Whether you have toddlers or teens, it's important to teach and remind your kids about the importance of dental health.

Some kids take to brushing and flossing right away, while others feel that taking care of their teeth is another dreaded chore. Help your kids realize the importance of dental health with these creative tips and tricks.

Teach your kids about their teeth

For kids who don't like to brush, you need to do more than hand them a toothbrush and tube of toothpaste. Teach them all about their teeth — the different types of teeth, their locations, shapes and different jobs. Adults have 32 teeth — eight incisors, four cuspids, eight premolars and 12 molars.

  • Incisors: Located in the front of the mouth (four up top and four on the bottom), the eight incisors have chisel-shaped crowns that cut food.
  • Cuspids: Located next to each incisor, the four cuspids have pointed edges to tear food.
  • Premolars (also called bicuspids): Located next to the cuspids, these four pairs of teeth crush and tear food.
  • Molars: The 12 molars come in sets of three at the back of the mouth. The wide surfaces of these teeth grind food.

Read books about dental health

Young kids are more apt to understand dental health and other subjects if they see the topics illustrated in books. From the time your children are infants, you should begin to incorporate books about dental health, teeth brushing and visiting the dentist into their regular reading. Read these books about dental health to your little ones. You can find them at your local library or bookstore.

The American Dental Association also offers an animated online book to teach your kids about going to the dentist. You can check out Visit the Dentist with Marty at ADA.org. Kids will also love to play Toothbrush Patch and the many other games that teach about dental health on the Colgate Kids website.

Do an eggsperiment

Crest put together a simple experiment that you can do at home with your kids to show them why brushing their teeth matters. The experiment reveals how teeth can become soft and weak when exposed to the acids in everyday foods. Plus, it demonstrates how toothpaste helps protect the teeth. For the experiment, you need eggs, vinegar, toothpaste and some other common items that you have around the house. This fun eggsperiment takes five or six days for the kids to see the results. Check out all the details and instructions at Crest.com.

HealthyTeeth.org also offers a number of other experiments and activities aimed at elementary age kids. This information is produced by dentists and can teach your kids about everything from cavities to braces.

Buy the right brush

There are a lot of toothbrushes and pastes out there geared toward young children, but our new favorites are the FireFly toothbrushes.

With a simple press of the button, the FireFly Ready Go Toothbrush mimics a traffic light and flashes to let kids know how long to brush (one minute per arch). Kids start brushing with the green light. The yellow light lets them know they are half way done, and then the red light flashes when they can stop. These toothbrushes feature characters that they know and love including Angry Birds, Barbie and Spider-Man. Also try the FireFly Fluoride Foam Toothpaste. It's easy to use with less mess than traditional toothpaste.

More about dental health

A checklist for choosing a pediatric dentist
Are dental x-rays safe for your kids?
Surviving your child's first dental appointment

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Comments

Comments on "Teaching kids about dental health"

Hannah February 01, 2013 | 3:33 PM

Great article!! Dental health is so important, not just for your teeth and gums but for your LIFE.

Kauai dentist March 10, 2012 | 12:20 AM

Childhood years is one of the crucial stage as habits are formed here, that is why it is encouraged to teach them the right and proper habits like having a good dental hygiene. Teaching them how to do it as well why they do it is very important. Love your article, very helpful and informative especially to mothers like me. Keep on writing, looking forward to read more of your impressive articles.

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