Taking good care of your mouth and teeth will help you have pleasant breath, a nice smile, and fewer cavities.
Here are some simple things you can do:
Brush your teeth at least twice a day
When we talk about teeth care, brushing teeth is important for keeping teeth clean, as well as preventing tooth decay, bad breath and gum disease. But teenagers don’t always brush their teeth, and there could be many reasons for this. For example, your child might not understand the importance of brushing teeth or he might just forget to do it.
Try to look out for signs that your child isn’t brushing her teeth – for example, her toothbrush hasn’t been used, her teeth might not look clean, or you might notice gum disease or bad breath.
You can encourage your child to brush his teeth twice a day. Talking about why it’s good to brush your teeth could be a good place to start.
In case your child needs reminding, here are the basic steps for brushing teeth:
- Use a pea-sized amount of adult fluoride toothpaste.
- Aim the toothbrush at a 45° angle towards the gum line.
- Start with the top teeth first. Using a gentle circular motion, brush the outside surface of the teeth and gums, one tooth at a time. Then brush the inside surface of the teeth and gums, one tooth at a time.
- Move to the bottom teeth and repeat the above step.
- Use a light backwards and forwards motion on the chewing surfaces.
- Gently brush the tongue.
- Brush for around two minutes.
- Spit out the toothpaste as you clean. There’s no need to rinse with water, though. Any leftover fluoride toothpaste helps to build strong, healthy teeth.
If your child uses an electric toothbrush, she should avoid moving the brush in circles. It’s best to keep her hand still, and guide the brush across the teeth and gums.
As well as brushing, your child should regularly floss any teeth that touch each other.
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Choosing a toothbrush – Teeth Care
When you and your child are choosing a toothbrush, you can look for the following:
- Soft bristles: these won’t damage your child’s gums or tooth enamel.
- A long handle: this will let your child reach all his teeth.
- A small head: this will make it easy for your child to move the toothbrush around her mouth.
- Electric toothbrushes are just as good as non-electric toothbrushes, and are particularly useful if your child has poor hand control.
- No matter what toothbrush your child uses, it’s a good idea to change it every 3-4 months or when the bristles start to look worn out and shaggy.
Toothpaste and fluoride
Teenagers should use regular adult fluoride toothpaste.
Fluoride is a safe mineral that helps keep teeth strong and prevent tooth decay. Fluoride works best when you get it in very small amounts throughout the day in fluoridated tap water, foods and drinks containing fluoride, and fluoride toothpaste. For teenagers who are at high risk of developing tooth decay, dentists might prescribe gels and pastes with extra fluoride.
“Cleaning teeth isn’t a guarantee against tooth decay. Diet is also important. Avoid giving teenagers sugary foods and sugary drinks like fruit, juice, soft drink and flavoured milk. Smoking, alcohol and other drugs can also affect oral health. There’s no safe level of alcohol, smoking and drug use for teenagers.”
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