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    Oral Health Challenge: 5 Tricks for Dealing With Halloween Treats

    Children’s Oral Health: Set Up a Teeth Brushing Schedule

    No matter when treat time is, it's crucial to brush soon after. If it is nighttime, for example, brushing and flossing teeth before bed will help sweep away the recent sweets. Fluoride mouth rinses for kids also help prevent tooth decay, according to the American Dental Association.

    Until a child is 7 or 8 years old, a parent should help with teeth brushing, not simply supervise. Even after age 8, parents should supervise brushing. That includes friendly reminders to older children to brush and floss until they get to high school, when it should be a habit.

    Use Disclosing Tablets, Swabs, or Solution

    Some dentists use ''disclosing tablets” to spot bacterial plaque on teeth. These chewable tablets temporarily stain the plaque that builds up on teeth.

    Parents can also use disclosing tablets, solution, or swabs to show children how well they are brushing or flossing their teeth -- especially if they already have a cavity or two. A 12-pack of disclosing tablets is available over the counter and online for about $5.

    You may want to schedule a disclosing session once a week or so, to keep your child on his toes.

    Keep Teeth Brushing Fun

    You should replace toothbrushes every three or four months anyway, so make Halloween an occasion for getting your child a new brush. Dentists say that when children like the toothbrushes, they are more apt to enjoy brushing. Children can choose from a variety of kid-sized brushes that feature cartoon characters and colorful designs. Young children typically can't wait to use a new toothbrush.

    Children also like to pick out their own toothpaste. Give your child the freedom to pick from gels or pastes, different colors, and different flavors. Just check the tube label to be sure it contains fluoride.

    Check the condition of your child's toothbrush from time to time. If it doesn't look worn after weeks of use, he may not be brushing well.

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    Reviewed on June 20, 2012

    How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

    Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

    SOURCES:

    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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