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Dental Hygiene & Education 101


Teeth are a super-important part of your face and your body. Sure, you need them when you smile, but you need them for a lot of other things, too. Without healthy teeth, it would be pretty hard to bite an apple or chew a slice of pizza. Talking would be really hard without teeth, and some words wouldn’t sound the same. Your teeth even help you look like you! All of these things are really important. That’s why you have to care for your teeth and gums the right way.

What Do Healthy Teeth Do?

Taking care of your teeth makes them strong and healthy. When your teeth are strong, they can fight bad things that are in your mouth. One of those bad things is called plaque. Plaque is one of your mouth’s greatest villains. Plaque is very sticky, and it can cover your teeth. After you eat, your food leaves sugar on your teeth. Because plaque likes sugar, it eats the sugar, too. This creates acid that starts causing soft spots and holes in your teeth. Yuck! These are called cavities, and they can hurt really bad.

Plaque can hurt your gums, too. Your gums are the soft, pink part of your mouth that your teeth stick out of. Plaque is a problem because it can cause gum disease called gingivitis. This is a big word that sounds really scary and can cause big trouble in your mouth, like making your gums sore, red, and swollen. If you don’t take care of your teeth, cavities and gingivitis can get really bad. If they get bad enough, your teeth could even fall out!

Before and After Toothpaste

How did people take care of their teeth a long time ago? What did they do before toothpaste and toothbrushes? In the old days, a lot of people would have rotten teeth or they would lose them. They didn’t know the right way to take care of them, but they did try. Instead of toothpaste, some people used things like lemon juice or ash from their fires. Other people ground up chalk or mixed together honey and tobacco to clean their teeth. Kind of gross, huh?

The first toothpaste was created about 100 years ago. Toothbrushes and toothpaste really started getting popular during World War II. The Army gave soldiers toothpaste in metal tubes and taught them to brush twice a day. Now, people are taught to brush their teeth starting when they are little, just like your parents taught you. Toothpaste comes in different flavors and in plastic tubes that are easy to squeeze. It’s a lot better than toothpaste used to be. Your toothpaste is made with fluoride that helps to make your teeth really strong and protects them from cavities. All you need is a small amount of toothpaste on your brush. It should be the size of a pea. After brushing your teeth, spit it out: Swallowing toothpaste is bad for you and can make you sick.

Keep Your Teeth Healthy

Beat plaque and have the strongest teeth around by brushing your teeth the right way.

  • Always brush in the morning and before going to sleep at night. You can get rid of more plaque by brushing every time you eat.
  • Brushes with soft bristles are the best for your teeth.
  • Make sure you brush every tooth.
  • Brush for two to three minutes. Singing a song that lasts that long will help you take your time.
  • Don’t use an old toothbrush. Ask your parents for a new one every three months.
  • Food gets stuck between your teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach and can cause cavities. Use dental floss between each tooth and around your gums to get it out.
  • Your tongue can get pretty yucky sometimes and cause bad breath. You can use your toothbrush to clean your tongue, too.

Brushing and flossing aren’t the only ways to keep your teeth clean and strong. What you eat can hurt teeth if you eat the wrong things. Sugary foods taste great, but remember that sugar causes cavities and cavities damage your smile. Eat healthy foods like vegetables and fruit, and drink lots of water. And make sure to go see the dentist at least twice a year. Dentists look for cavities and problems with your gums. They’ll also show you how to brush and floss your teeth better.

  • Brushing Your Teeth: Learn how to brush your teeth by reading the eight easy steps on this page.
  • Build a Mouth: For a fun way to learn about teeth, visit this page and create a mouth by moving the teeth where they belong.
  • Food Crushers Printable: Ever wonder how your teeth chew certain foods? Click this link for a printable page that lets you identify how the different teeth are used.
  • Healthy Teeth Color by Numbers (PDF): Ask an adult to print this page, then color the pictures by using the right color for each number.
  • Tooth Defender Snack Swat: Play this online game by swatting away the snacks that can hurt teeth and cause cavities.
  • Tooth Book (PDF): Print this page to make a book, and then cut and paste each tooth picture so it’s on the right page.
  • Sparkle’s Brilliant Teeth: Sing along with Sparkle the shark by clicking this link.
  • Open Wide: Looking After Your Teeth: Read this page to learn how to take care of your mouth and keep your toothbrush safe from nasty germs. The page also tells you what kinds of food are good for your teeth.
  • How to Brush Your Teeth: Some kids have a hard time brushing their teeth the right way. Watch this to learn the right way to get teeth clean.
  • Smile Style Challenge: Click this link and take the challenge by keeping only the pictured items that help teeth stay healthy.

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