Welcome, Dr. Lauren Heisinger to the Where Smiles Grow Family. Click here to read more!

Specializing in dentistry for infants, children & adolescents.

Consistent Teeth Brushing is Important for Kids’ Oral Health

What happens when kids don't brush their teeth

For many parents, motivating their children to brush their teeth can feel like a struggle. Do your children avoid brushing altogether, resist your requests that they brush, or lie about doing it when they haven’t?

This is not an uncommon occurrence with children. Most do not have the ability to fully comprehend the long-term benefits of brushing their teeth each day.

Today, we are going to discuss potential health complications caused by poor oral hygiene.

“Why Doesn’t My Child Enjoy Brushing Their Teeth?”

There are a number of reasons that could contribute to a child’s unwillingness to brush their teeth. Two common causes could include:

Sensory Issues

Loose teeth, growing teeth, and sensitive teeth can create sensory discomfort in the mouth. A child may avoid brushing because it feels painful or uncomfortable to do so.

Ask your child if it hurts to brush their teeth. If they say yes, try switching to a milder toothpaste for sensitive teeth or a toothbrush with soft bristles. Consider scheduling an appointment with your local pediatric dentist if these measures do not help alleviate the pain or discomfort.

Dislike the Toothpaste

Adult oral hygiene products like floss and toothpaste often contain an intense minty flavor that might be too strong for younger palates. Children’s’ toothpaste often comes in a variety of milder, sweeter flavors to encourage brushing. Allow your child to pick their preferred flavor during your next grocery store visit.

What Could Happen if Kids Don’t Brush Their Teeth:

1: Bad Breath

The most notable short-term consequence of inconsistent brushing is bad breath. Bacteria begin feeding on food particles on teeth and produce hydrogen sulfide as a result. This can create halitosis that results in an unpleasant odor.

Halitosis can be prevented by consistent brushing and flossing. The floss will help dislodge any food particles that might become trapped in the spaces between the teeth. To encourage flossing, consider purchasing a floss product designed for kids in a sweet flavor like fruit or bubblegum.

2: Gingivitis

Gingivitis refers to a mild and treatable form of periodontal disease. This condition causes your child’s gums to swell with slight inflammation. Other symptoms may include pain or light bleeding, and in some severe cases, may result in losing teeth.

Like halitosis, gingivitis can be treated with consistent brushing and flossing. It is also recommended that you make a dental appointment to have your child’s teeth professionally cleaned to ensure that any additional plaque and tartar are removed.

3: Cavities

Cavities can be caused by a variety of factors, such as acidic foods, bacteria, or inconsistent hygiene. They can form as a partial or complete hole in the tooth, causing pain and potential infection. Brushing daily can create a steady hygiene routine to regularly clean any acidic substances or bacteria from the tooth enamel.

4: Plaque and Tartar Buildup

Plaque begins as a soft film over the surface of the teeth. If not removed through brushing and flossing, it can solidify into a darker-colored substance known as tartar. It commonly forms after eating high-carbohydrate foods or if your child is prescribed a medication that causes dry mouth.

When plaque forms into tartar, a dental appointment should be arranged. Depending on the severity of the tartar buildup, it can cause some pain or discomfort during the removal process.

Plaque buildup happens to even the most dedicated brushers and flossers. Preventing plaque from hardening into tartar through a daily oral care routine is essential to maintaining the health of your teeth.

5: Tooth Loss

While a child’s deciduous teeth (“baby teeth”) will be replaced by adult teeth in a natural growing cycle, inconsistent oral hygiene could lead to premature tooth loss. This could also happen to older children’s adult teeth as a result of irregular brushing.

Tooth loss can be caused by various conditions. Most causes can be prevented by committing to a consistent routine that includes at least brushing twice daily for around two minutes each time.

How to Encourage Your Children to Brush Their Teeth

There is no magic formula to encourage children to brush their teeth. However, there are a few approaches that parents can take that include but are not limited to:

  •     Rewarding your child for consistent brushing 
  •     Allow them to select their own toothbrush and toothpaste
  •     Brush your teeth with them (it’ll help parents stick to a routine, too!)
  •     Teach them about the positive long-term benefits of brushing their teeth
  •     Play their favorite music while they brush their teeth
  •     Let them have one of their favorite snacks before they brush their teeth

Get Pediatric Dentistry Services in the Albany, NY Area Today

Where Smiles Grow provides pediatric dentistry to kids throughout the Albany, NY area. To schedule an appointment, view our locations to find the one nearest you or contact us online at any time for more information.