After Halloween, Turn a Brush with Death into Better Teeth Brushing

national-brush-day_21599988_webIt’s the day after Halloween. At this point, you might loathe the holiday for the sugar buzz it’s given your kids. Or maybe you wonder already if you can convince your kids to reuse their costumes next Halloween. You might even think of the day after Halloween as the day when candy is sold in grocery stores on the cheap (though, if you have kids, probably not).

For us, on the day after Halloween, we celebrate National Brush Day.

Make no mistake: National Brush Day was intentionally designed to follow a holiday that indulges in collecting and gorging on too much candy. According to the American Dental Association, National Brush Day is meant to reach parents then for two reasons:

  • to reinforce the importance of children’s oral health
  • to promote good tooth-brushing habits

We’d like to help you celebrate National Brush Day, too.

Why Your Children Need to Brush

Brushing and flossing can remove plaque, tartar and stains. These three culprits can cause problems of all sorts:

  • Cavities
  • Gum disease, like gingivitis or periodontitis
  • Weakened tooth enamel, making teeth more susceptible to chips or cracks

Conditions like these can wreak havoc on your children’s smiles. But the issues don’t stop there.

In fact, a saying worth remembering is:

You can’t spell overall without oral.

As in, oral health directly affects overall wellness.

Bad oral health doesn’t just put your children at risk for cavities, gum disease, and weakened tooth enamel; it can increase risks for serious conditions later down the road, like diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

The solution, of course, is brushing, but only when done so properly. Watch out for these improper ways your children might go about it:

Three Wrong Ways to Brush

Brushing with force. Brushing too hard might make your children feel like they’ve gotten their teeth extra clean, but their teeth won’t be thanking them. Using too much force can lead to tooth abrasion, little notches in the teeth near the gums.

Starting in the same place every time. Usually, when something is routine, the tendency is to start in the exact same place every single time. For brushing, this isn’t necessarily the best technique. It takes two minutes to brush. When your children start, the first tooth has their full attention. But by the time they’ve reached 1:45, they might be more concerned about whether their teacher will impose a pop quiz than with that particular tooth. For more evenly-cleaned teeth, have your children consider a new first tooth each time they brush.

Leaving your toothbrush on a bathroom sink or counter. This isn’t really a brushing technique, but it can defeat an otherwise perfect routine. The bathroom isn’t exactly the cleanest room in your house — to avoid getting too “potty” mouthed about it — so your children’s toothbrushes are susceptible to germs if they park them there. Should they keep their toothbrushes in the bathroom, at least have them put the toothbrushes in a holder where they can air-dry, and where the bristles won’t touch the germy sink or counter. Pro-tip: If you’re on vacation and your children are using a travel bag, make sure they don’t store their toothbrushes while they’re damp, as bacteria can grow on a moist toothbrush.

By this point, we’ve covered diseases that want to rob your children of their wellness, and wrong techniques that could prevent them from fighting those diseases.

If this has you scared stiff by the amount of candy your children brought home, remember this: National Brush Day is the day after Halloween, so the witching hour is officially behind. Don’t let your children dig their own graves. Have them follow these six brushing techniques to keep up their perfect smile:

Six Steps for Better Brushing

  1. Place your toothbrush bristles at a 45-degree angle to the gumline
  2. Use just enough pressure to feel bristles against your gums and between teeth. Don’t squish the bristles
  3. Brush all inner and outer tooth surfaces several times, using short, circular strokes. Be sure to brush along the gumline as well
  4. Brush chewing surfaces straight on. Clean the inside surfaces of front teeth by tilting the brush vertically and making up-and-down strokes with the front of the brush
  5. Clean only one or two teeth at a time
  6. Brush your tongue, as oral bacteria can remain in taste buds

National Brush Day might not be as well-known as Halloween, but you may want to add it to your calendar. After all, most us can probably agree Nov. 1 is too early for the Christmas Creep.

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