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Most of my neighbours know that I’m an Orthodontist, therefore parents come around to my house and ask for advice on a regular basis.  One of the most common problems is what to do with a kid that just won’t brush his teeth.

Why it’s important 

The first thing I explain is that, although tooth brushing is very important to help prevent tooth decay and gum disease, it is only one part of the bigger picture. Just as important is to make sure that you limit the amount and frequency of the kinds of food and drink that can lead to dental disease. This includes lollies and any kind of sweetened drinks, including fresh fruit juices.

Any kind of sugar in the mouth causes the decay-causing bugs to make acids, which in turn rots the teeth. A lolly may only take a minute to eat, but the effects last for up to 30 minutes before the saliva manages to neutralize the acids released by the bugs. That is why it is so important to limit the frequency of sugary foods.

Natural defenses

Next, I explain that our best natural defense against decay-causing bugs is our own saliva. Chewing sugar-free gum after meals is a great way to stimulate our saliva, and wash away the acid produced by these bugs.


Finally, I explain that fluoride toothpaste is a fantastic weapon against tooth decay. And, so long as you can get fluoride toothpaste in your kid’s mouth twice a day, then they will get some benefit.  Fluoride helps eliminate the bugs that cause decay and gum disease, as well as strengthening the enamel against the acids produced by decay-causing bugs.

Some kids take a while to come on board with tooth brushing, and it can be extremely frustrating for parents who feel they are failing their child by not being able to brush their teeth properly. However, by being vigilant around good dietary habits, sugar-free gum after meals, and getting fluoride toothpaste in their mouth twice a day, your kid will eventually grow up enough to realise the importance of tooth brushing. Of course, regular checks by your family dentist will help reinforce the message, and help get your child on track.


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