The beginning of the school year can be a busy time for families shuffling schedules to get into a new routine.
Sometimes daily oral health habits get skipped in the chaos, but experts say it is good time to re-establish tooth brushing as a part of the daily routine.
“You want to spend some time brushing your teeth,” Dr. John Ridella said from his family dentistry office at 901 Menoher Boulevard in Southmont.
“You can’t just do it for 10 seconds. You want to do it for at least 2 minutes.”
To encourage children to brush for the full 2 minutes, experts suggest playing a 2-minute song or video the children enjoy.
Suggested videos are available on the American Dental Association’s www.mouthhealthy.org website.
The ADA recommends brushing teeth at least twice a day, but dental hygienist Shannan Presto at Ridella’s office said brushing after every meal and at bedtime is a better plan.
A back-to-school visit to the dentist is also a good idea, the association says.
“It’s also a great time to help get back on track if some of your child’s dental habits fell away during summer, when normal routines can go out the window and there are a lot more treats around,” pediatric dentist Mary Hayes said on the ADA website.
Many people are not using the proper technique when brushing, Ridella said.
“You should use a circular motion,” he said. “You don’t want to go like you are sawing your teeth because you can actually cause damage.”
There are three surfaces that must be cleaned, Ridella continued. The chewing surface and both sides of the teeth are to be covered.
When brushing the sides, the toothbrush should be rotated to a 45-degree angle, with bristles angled toward the gums.
“In my office, our hygienist goes over and instructs the patients on what to do,” Ridella said.
Brushing with and ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste is more important than ever for children living in areas served by Greater Johnstown Water Authority after leaders decided to remove fluoride from local drinking water, Ridella said.
But he was quick to add that the benefits of fluoridated water have been diminished by the widespread use of bottled water.
“When I was growing up, we drank water out of the tap,” Ridella said. “We used it for cooking; we made Kool-Aid with it. There was not bottled water you could go out and buy.”
Flossing is another important part of daily oral health for children. The ADA recommends flossing should start as soon as a child has two teeth that touch.
“Daily flossing is important,” Ridella said. “And you should floss before you brush. There are food particles that get caught between your teeth that can cause decay.”
Finally, parents should lead by example and remember to take care of their own oral health.
“Your children learn from you, so set a good example,” the ADA says. “The family that brushes together has even more reason to smile.”
Randy Griffith is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5057. Follow him on Twitter @PhotoGriffer57.