Study Shows Children Brush Too Little and Too Quickly

child-brushing-teethA recent study sponsored by the Dental Dental Plans Association shows that infrequent and improper brushing may be the biggest dental problem for America’s children. According to a recent article in the Suburban newspaper, children have below-average dental care, despite being almost universally overseen in their brushing habits by their parents. Delta Dental, the US’s largest provider of dental health insurance, has a particular interest in this information, as proper preventative care can help decrease dental costs for individuals as well as insurance companies.

Statistics Show Sub-Standard Child Brushing Behavior

“There’s clearly a need for more frequent and better education on good oral health practices,” according to one New Jersey children’s dentist, Suzy Press, D.D.S., M.S.“Regular visits to the dentist are an important part of educating kids and their parents, and maintaining lifelong oral health.” The study discovered that 35% of children do not brush their teeth twice a day, despite that being the recommended minimum. Children are also not brushing for the proper length of time, with 56% of those admitting to less-then-ideal dental health reporting that their children brush for less than two minutes, the proper time recommended by dentists.

Flossing may be the most difficult aspect of dental care for children, with only 22% of children flossing daily. And although the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children’s teeth be flossed daily, this is hardly the case for most children or adults. In fact, 48% of parents report that their children’s teeth have never been flossed.

Creative Ways to Improve Family Dental Habits

Getting kids to be interested or even compliant with brushing their teeth may take some creative thinking. There are several different things that parents can do to help improve their children’s oral health:

Kid-specific dental equipment: Finding a toothbrush that kids like may be an excellent motivational tool. Even just allowing them to choose one that is their favorite color, or emphasizing how it’s perfectly sized for their hand can help make them more interested in the toothbrush’s use. Choosing a unique toothpaste or toothbrush holder may have a similar effect.

Take turns brushing: Kids may take some time before they understand the motions and techniques that are most desirable. This learning curve may be improved by brushing the children’s teeth for them for the first half of the two-minute period, and then letting them brush on their own after that.

Reverse roles: Allowing kids to practice on your teeth may be an excellent way for them to learn the technique, and will allow you to catch any bad habits.

Visit the dentist: “If children stubbornly neglect to brush or floss, maybe it’s time to change the messenger,” according to Douglas B. Keck, D.M.D., M.S.H.Ed. “Call the dental office before the next checkup and let them know what’s going on. Kids might heed the same motivational message if it comes from a third party, especially the dentist.”

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