Kids’ Tutorial on How to Care for Teeth
Now that you’re getting older, you’re likely taking on more responsibilities by learning to do a lot of new things by yourself. Brushing and flossing your teeth is likely one of the jobs you’re learning, and it’s really important because it helps keep your teeth healthy. After all, your teeth are super cool and useful! They help you smile, eat all your favorite snacks, and even speak.
There’s a lot to learn about how to take great care of your teeth and gums, so it’s understandable that you have a lot of questions. That’s where your dentist comes in! We’re always available to help answer your questions about dental hygiene. To help you get started at home, we’ve made a guide to taking care of your teeth and gums through brushing, flossing, and more.
Why are our teeth so important?
Our teeth are so important because we use them in so many different ways! You need your teeth to bite into and chew your food, to help you make certain sounds to speak, and to express your emotions by smiling or even grimacing. And unlike some other animals, we only get two sets of teeth for our entire lives.
The first set (your baby teeth) comes in when you’re little and naturally begins falling out when you’re around six years old so that your final set of teeth can take their rightful place in your mouth. This final set of teeth is your adult teeth, and they’re permanent! If you lose an adult tooth, it’s gone forever, but they’ll last your entire life if you learn how to take great care of them!
What causes teeth to “get sick”?
Teeth “get sick” when bacteria build up on them and form a film called plaque. Bacteria love to eat the sugars left behind in your mouth from the food you eat, but when they do, they also create acid. This acid eats through your enamel, which is the hard layer that protects your teeth. If it eats through enough of your enamel, it makes your tooth sick and it can start hurting. Your teeth can also get sick when bacteria build up around your gums. This happens because bacteria irritate your gums until they break past your gum line. Once they do, they can start hurting your tooth root, which is a lot like its feet—tooth roots help your teeth stand upright. If your tooth root is sick, so is your tooth.
The buildup of bacteria that makes your teeth sick is caused by bad oral hygiene, but the good news is that preventing it is as simple as keeping your teeth clean! You can keep your teeth clean and healthy with a good oral hygiene routine at home to keep your teeth and gums clean. A good oral hygiene routine includes brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and using mouthwash every day.
When should you start brushing your teeth?
As soon as your first baby tooth appears, it needs to get cleaned every day. That’s why your parents have likely been helping you brush your teeth for so long! But how do you know when you’re ready to start brushing your own teeth?
Well, you can start learning to brush your own teeth between the ages of six and nine years old, though you might still need a little help from your parents—and that’s okay! It’s normal to need help when you’re learning something for the first time. Your parents needed help when they started learning to brush their teeth, too. With a little practice, though, you’ll soon be brushing your teeth all by yourself!
How do you brush your teeth?
When you brush your teeth, you should start by putting a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on your toothbrush and getting it wet with a little water. Brush your teeth using gentle side-to-side motions across your teeth. You don’t need to scrub very hard, but take the time to make sure you get every part of your teeth clean, including the outsides, tops, and backs.
To reach the back of your front teeth, turn your toothbrush so that the top is facing the ground and brush with up-and-down motions. When you’re done brushing, make sure you spit out the toothpaste and rinse your mouth with water. Then you’re done!
Once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty simple. But how long does this take? How long should you brush your teeth? The answer is two minutes. If you need help making sure you’re brushing for long enough, you can try setting a timer or listening to a song while you brush. Make sure to do this twice every day to keep your teeth healthy!
How do you floss your teeth?
Brushing your teeth is pretty simple but did you know that flossing is too? All you need to do is take a piece of floss and wrap it around the middle finger of each hand to create your very own flossing tool! Slide the floss between each of your teeth and gently move it up and down several times, including beneath your gum line. As you move the floss, follow the curve of each of the teeth you’re flossing. This way, you’re able to break up the bacteria hanging out there, keeping your teeth and gums healthy. You should do this at least once a day, but you can do it twice a day if you want.
When should you use a mouthguard to protect your teeth?
Your teeth are super strong, but they can get hurt. When you play a rough sport like soccer or football, you wear knee guards, shin pads, and maybe even helmets, right? These bits of padding protect you and keep you safe. A mouthguard does the same thing, protecting your teeth, gums, and the skin inside your mouth from getting hurt if you fall or get hit in the face while you’re playing.
By protecting you from injuries like cuts in your mouth or chipped, cracked, or broken teeth, mouthguards save you from a last-minute trip to the dentist—and they keep you playing your game and having fun! That’s why it’s so important to wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth any time you’re playing a contact sport where you might fall or get hit in the face.
How often should you go to the dentist for a checkup and cleaning?
Visiting your dentist regularly is just as important for keeping your teeth healthy as going to the doctor for a regular checkup is for keeping your whole body healthy. In fact, you should visit your dentist for a regular appointment every six months. During these appointments, Dr. Jaynes cleans your teeth thoroughly, which gets rid of plaque and hardened tartar that you missed when you were cleaning your teeth at home. This helps keep your teeth healthy!
He also gets a good look at your teeth and gums, so he can spot any issues with them while it’s still easy to fix. Plus, it’s the perfect chance to ask Dr. Jaynes any questions you have about your oral health, brushing and flossing your teeth at home, or what else you can do to keep your teeth healthy!
There’s a lot to learn as you start getting older, including about your oral health. Thankfully, though, you’ll always have plenty of support from us and your family to help you learn! When it’s time for your regular appointment, your parents can schedule it online at any time.