Make oral health care habits routine in your household.

Children learn by repetition and example, so the best way to get your children into a great oral health care routine of brushing and flossing multiple times a day is by showing your children how to brush and floss properly, on a daily basis. Make a routine of brushing your teeth together as a family after breakfast and before bedtime so your children can see how important it is to keep their teeth in tip-top shape.

How do you make oral health care a habit?

Habits are learned and formed, and sometimes, it takes work to establish a habit. According to scientists, one of the ways to make and maintain habits is to make an activity fun. When it comes to brushing your teeth regularly, set aside designated times when you are going to brush your teeth. This doesn’t mean a designated time on the clock, but a designated time after an activity. Dentists recommend waiting about 20 minutes after eating before you brush your teeth because any acidic foods you may have consumed could still be present in your mouth. Acidic foods weaken the enamel on your teeth, so brushing immediately after you consume something acidic could be harmful to your dental health.

When it comes to making the habit of brushing your teeth fun for your children, maybe you all hum a song or watch a silly video while you all brush your teeth. By doing this, you can ensure your (and your child’s) teeth are getting brushed for the proper amount of time—two minutes, at least.

Learn the proper way to brush.

One of the best ways to take care of your teeth is by brushing them at least twice a day for a minimum of two minutes each time. But are you using the proper tools and technique when you brush?

When choosing your toothbrush and toothpaste, look for the ADA seal on the packaging. The ADA seal means these products are recommended by the American Dental Association. When it comes to choosing a toothpaste, make sure it contains fluoride. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps to make the enamel of the teeth strong. When choosing a toothbrush, look for a soft bristle brush with a head that will fit into your mouth. Children should use a special child-sized toothbrush to ensure they can maneuver the toothbrush in their mouth.

Once you have your tools of choice, it’s time to begin brushing! Start with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on your toothbrush (or for toddlers, the amount of toothpaste is even smaller—only about the size of a grain of rice). The easiest way to make sure you are getting all of your teeth brushed is by breaking up your mouth into four quadrants, spending at least 30 seconds in each part of your mouth. Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums and use small, circular strokes to clean the surface of your teeth. Don’t forget to brush the tops, backs, and sides of all your teeth.

Continue With Flossing

After you’ve brushed your teeth, it’s now time to floss. Once you’ve got your dental floss, break off a piece about 18 inches long. Wind the floss around your middle fingers, and hold a small section taut between your thumbs and forefingers. To begin flossing, gently slide the floss in between two teeth, wrap the floss to the side and rub the floss gently up and down along the surface of the tooth. As you get closer to the gumline, curve the floss into a “C” shape, and gently swipe the floss along the gumline. After you have flossed on both sides of the teeth, gently slide the dental floss out, wind the used floss down one finger until there is a fresh section of floss in between your middle fingers, and repeat the process throughout your mouth.

If you have difficulty using dental floss, there are other options. You can try a Waterpik, which uses a small stream of pressurized water to clean between your teeth, or you can try a dental pick, it is a little handle with a small piece of floss in it. You can always ask Dr. Lang and his staff for brushing and flossing tips the next time you are in our office.

Maintain a tooth-friendly diet.

Another way to help keep your smile healthy is by eating and drinking tooth-friendly foods.

Water is essential to our survival, and water is good to have on hand to sip on throughout the day. Dentists recommend people avoid sipping on juice, soda, or coffee throughout the day because that exposes your teeth to sugars and bacteria for a prolonged period. Instead, keep those drinks for mealtime, and make sure to drink water after your meals to help get rid of bacteria if you can’t brush your teeth right away.

If you’re looking for some tooth-friendly foods to keep around the house to snack on, look for green, leafy vegetables, like spinach and kale. These vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals that help keep teeth healthy. Also, keep fibrous fruits and vegetables on hand, like celery and apples. These snacks are tooth-friendly and act as nature’s toothbrushes because of the fibers in the food—they can actually “sweep” away bacteria on the teeth while you are chewing them!

Build onto your daily habits.

Not only is it important to brush and floss daily, and to eat foods that are tooth-friendly, but you also need to expand those daily habits into long-term habits, like visiting the dentist at least twice a year. Even if you have healthy teeth, preventative care is crucial to keep your teeth healthy and strong for your entire life. Make sure you visit the team at Dr. Steven A. Lang’s office at least every six months for a dental evaluation, where our team can identify any issues with your teeth or gums. When you catch issues early, there is a better chance to improve them, saving time and money down the line.