Short of standing over them and making sure they’re always brushing, it’s impossible to always know what your child is doing in the bathroom each morning. Here are a few signs that can indicate lackluster oral hygiene.
1. The toothbrush is dry.
It’s tough to keep the toothbrush dry if you’re actually brushing! Make sure to check your child’s toothbrush every day (and night) – before it has time to dry. If your child is adamant about not brushing, they might catch on and simply run their toothbrush under the water. Assure them that you’ll catch on too!
2. You can still see food particles.
After your child has brushed, ask for a smile. If you can still see bits of food on or in between your child’s teeth, send your child back to the bathroom for a do-over. While some kids will brush on their own, it’s typical for them to get a bit lazy and just run the brush over their teeth carelessly. Make sure they know the correct way and are getting all the food out of their mouth. Brushing and flossing correctly is essential for a healthy future.
3. Teeth don’t pass 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. Tell them that having “squeaky clean” teeth is a literal term! If it turns out your child needs braces or any kind of orthodontic treatment later in life, knowing how to brush is even more important.
4. Breath is everything but fresh.
If your child is brushing and flossing regularly, his or her breath should be fresh. 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. Make them give you a nice long breath so you can see for yourself if they’re “unfresh.” Consistently bad breath is a sure sign they’re avoiding the brush.
5. Your child has a toothache.
Even if you can’t tell if your child is brushing well, a toothache is a red flag. Make sure your child sees the dentist right away – a filling or other treatment may be in order. Problems at the dentist, even minor ones, can be a sign that they’re slacking off during their morning routine. It’s essential that teeth be treated kindly at a young age as early care will lead to a lifetime of good oral health.