Believe me, I can relate. I had two small children once too.
Encouraging kids to become independent brushers is great, but problems crop up if parents don't monitor their kids oral hygiene habits. Bad breath isn't always the tell-tale sign that someone has not brushed their teeth- especially in kids.
Parents need to become super-sleuths and sniff out signs of bad brushing. Here are 5 clues your child may be skipping out – or cutting corners – at the sink.
1. Run the “squeak test.”
Have your child wet his or her finger and rub it quickly across the outside and inside of his or her teeth. If the teeth are clean, you will hear a squeaking sound.
2. Your child's tongue is white.
Proper brushing includes brushing the tongue. A clean tongue appears pink. A white tongue means there is still bacteria lurking on it.
3. The toothbrush bristles are always dry… and take a longer-than-normal time to fray.
It's tough to keep the toothbrush dry if you're actually brushing! Ask your child to bring you the toothbrush or check it on your own. Be sure to do so before the toothbrush has had a chance to air dry.
Also, keep in mind that a toothbrush usually starts to fray after a month or so. If your child's bristles look brand new after 90 days… something is definitely amiss.
4. Foul breath.
If your child is brushing
and flossing regularly, his or her breath should be pleasant. The foul odor associated with bad breath is most often caused by food particles — either food left in between teeth or food trapped in the grooves on the tongue.
5. Your child spends a short time at the sink.
Kids should be brushing twice a day for at least 2 minutes at a time. Most kids think they brush long enough but probably do so for less than a minute. If your child brushes for less than the length of a song, it's not long enough.
Brushing and flossing are the most important oral hygiene activities of the day. Share this information with your child; make sure he or she knows how important it is to keep teeth clean and healthy. And if all else fails, bring your child into my office. I can help reinforce the importance of good oral hygiene with your child.