There is nothing more precious than a child’s smile. Making sure that children have healthy teeth and mouths is very important. Having healthy teeth will help children chew food, speak clearly and help them to look their best.

After a person eats something, there are bacteria in the mouth that eat away at the sugar in the mouth. The bacteria turn the sugar into acid and can cause cavities. If the teeth are not properly cared for, it is likely that cavities will occur, causing a great deal of pain. If children have pain in their mouths, they may find it hard to eat or concentrate in school.

The following tips will help maintain healthy teeth:

  •  Brush two times a day. Make sure your child brushes his or her teeth at least two times a day. The best times are after breakfast and right before bedtime. If possible, brush again after lunch and after eating sugary snacks.
  •  Brush ALL of the teeth. Make sure your child brushes all of his or her teeth. Often areas in the back and inside part of the teeth are missed. If possible, have the dentist show your child the best way to brush his or her teeth.
  •  Take the time to brush. Spend at least two to three minutes brushing teeth. It may be helpful to have a timer in the bathroom or have a song that can be sung while brushing that lasts about two minutes, to ensure that your child is spending enough time brushing.
  •  Use a SOFT bristle toothbrush. The package will tell you if the bristles are soft or medium. You should also replace a toothbrush at least every three months.
  •  Flossing is important. Make sure your child flosses his or her teeth. Flossing gets out the food bits that get stuck between the teeth.
  •  Visit a dentist regularly. Your child should visit a dentist at least two times a year (every six months). The dentist will check for cavities and signs of gum disease. During the dentist appointment, your child’s teeth will be cleaned. This can be a time to learn more about how to take even better care of the teeth.

Making sure your child has a happy healthy smile is important. Take the time to make sure that your child is brushing and flossing correctly. If he is not, make sure your child learns so that he can have a beautiful smile for years and years to come.

MARSHA O. PARKER is the Christian County extension agent for family and consumer sciences. She can be reached at 270-886-6328.

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