You send your children to the bathroom to brush their teeth. They have timers on their toothbrushes, so they assure you they’ve done it for the recommended two minutes, morning and night. But are they doing a good job? As Madison dentists, we know of common spots kids miss while brushing their teeth.
Here’s a quick list of toothbrushing problem areas so that you can check for common spots kids miss while brushing their teeth:
- Not Going to the Gumline
- Missing the Canines
- Not Reaching the Molars
- Forgetting the Backside of the Teeth
- Skipping the Tongue
Problem Area #1: Not Going to the Gumline
Take a closer look at your child’s smile. There’s more enamel to brush than meets the eye. A common problem kids have while brushing their teeth is not taking the toothbrush all the way to the gumline. Plaque can hide behind the lips if your child is only brushing the teeth shown while smiling. Gently pull up your child’s lip to see if there is plaque along the gumline.
If there is visible plaque, take your child to the bathroom and point out the darker areas on the teeth. Demonstrate how to brush along the gumline with the toothbrush. Younger children might need assistance in getting the toothbrush behind the lips.
Problem Area #2: Missing the Canines
Another spot kids sometimes miss while brushing are the canines. These corner teeth can be skipped as kids concentrate on the front and sides of the teeth.
To help your child remember to cover these areas, show how the mouth can be divided into quadrants: the upper left, upper right, lower left, and lower right. Encourage your child to divide the two-minute toothbrushing session into four parts. Spending thirty seconds brushing all sides of every tooth in one quadrant before moving to the next will help ensure those corner canines get brushed.
Problem Area #3: Not Reaching the Molars
A third problem kids can have while brushing is not getting all the way back to the molars. Children have five teeth in each quadrant, with the back two being molars. To make sure your child doesn’t miss this area, have him or her do some math at the sink. Instruct your child to count each tooth while brushing, making sure to reach the fifth tooth—or the second molar—in each quadrant. Thirty seconds per quadrant means your child should spend six seconds brushing each tooth. If your child has extra time, it’s likely one of those back molars got missed!
Problem Area #4: Forgetting the Backside of the Teeth
Out of sight, out of mind. If kids can’t see behind their teeth, it’s easy to forget to brush there. Grab a small mirror and angle it to show your child the backside of the teeth. You can decide together if that area is clean or needs more work. Helping your child see the backside of the teeth will reinforce the importance of keeping them clean.
One of the most difficult areas to see and reach is behind the back molars. However, bacteria and plaque can form there just as well as anywhere else, so it’s important to keep that area clean, as well. Help your child extend the toothbrush all the way behind the last molar to show how far back brushing needs to go.
Problem Area #5: Skipping the Tongue
Your child put in the effort to brush every tooth for six seconds, cleaning the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces. Your child brushed all the way to the gumline, spent time on the canines, remembered the backsides, and behind the teeth. Surely it’s time to go play now, right?
Not yet! For a truly deep clean, encourage your child to also brush the tongue. Even though it’s not a tooth, plenty of tooth-decaying bacteria live in the grooves of the tongue. Help your child brush the tongue from side to side and back and forth to help remove bacteria and freshen the breath.
A little parental direction can help your child avoid dental care issues related to these toothbrushing problem areas. If we can assist you in with these common spots kids miss while brushing their teeth, please contact Affiliated Dentists. We offer, among other services, pediatric dentistry in Madison, Wisconsin: