Brushing After Dark-Our Halloween Special
At the end of the day, after all our energy is spent playing supermom/dad, all we would like to do is pack the little ones off to sleep and catch up on some peace and quiet and some much-deserved sleep. But before you hit the sack its important you pay a little attention to those pearlies … yours and more importantly your child’s. After all, we have to practice what we preach and teach by example – to make sure our little ones follow suit!
A simple task which goes a long way. There are a number of reasons we dentists stress on brushing at night: –
Brushing only once a day in the morning allows food debris and plaque to accumulate in the nooks and crannies in and around the teeth the whole day which remains until the next morning. That’s like bathing once in the morning and remaining in the same soiled clothes till the next morning! Just as its important to freshen up in the evening, its important to make sure you are going to bed with a clean set of teeth.
During sleep our mouth is drier as compared to waking hours. This is because the saliva is naturally lesser during this time. Saliva plays a role in flushing food particles and bacteria stuck in between and on teeth. When we sleep this action is reduced and our mouths dry up a little causing bad breath and buildup of plaque (which is a thin biofilm made up of bacteria and minute food particles on teeth).
In young children who nurse to sleep, milk or any sweetened beverages that has pooled around the teeth or food material stuck on tooth surfaces are acted upon by bacteria to produce acids which cause those dreaded cavities. (For more information: how are cavities formed)
Decrease in saliva at night also markedly decreases its acid neutralizing effect which helps prevent cavities.
Sticky sweets and desserts eaten after dinner make it worse since they remain longer on the tooth surface and since salivary flow is decreased during sleep their clearance from the mouth is also slowed.
We’re sure you’re wondering, getting your child to brush once a day is a task in itself! Twice is laughable! Most parents will have tried giving their little ones an incentive like a fancy
toothbrush with an image of their favorite cartoon or superhero. Or switching the flavor of the toothpaste till the child is comfortable with the taste.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you accomplish this daily routine. We, at Dentist Auntie, truly believe in rewarding a child and using positive reinforcement parenting techniques.
- Use a tooth brushing chart. Download the chart here. Instructions on how to use it are in the attachment.
- Don’t wait till the child is sleepy and irritable to start their nightly routine of changing into bed clothes and brushing. Once the last meal is done, wait for half an hour and complete these tasks. Brushing wakes up a sleepy child and irritates an already irritated one.
- It is recommended to brush for at least 2 mins, try making it interesting by playing the child’s favorite song. This works if the child remains steady and doesn’t start dancing to it.
- Tell your children stories during mealtime or bedtime to inculcate good habits. This method is called subconscious behaviour conditioning. Repetition of an interesting story/poem/song creates positive neural pathways to create or modify behavioral patterns (like advertisements do). Rather than struggling when the task is at hand, lay your groundwork at an earlier time and only remind about the story when performing the daily routine. For example, download the story in the attachment here.
If you’ve had success with making your child form a routine, do write about it in our comments. We love to hear about creative parenting.
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