The ‘Oreo Test’ and Other Ways to Help Children’s Oral Health

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Feb. 1, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Worried that your child isn’t brushing his or her teeth properly? You may want to try the Oreo test.

“If the child is eating an Oreo and brushing their teeth and the parent can still see the Oreos, they should monitor it and help brush it,” said Elise Sarvas, a clinical associate professor of pediatric dentistry at the University of Minnesota.

Sarvas offers the Oreo test and other ideas for good oral health in recognition of National Children’s Dental Health Month in February.

“The mouth is an integral part of the body,” Sarvas said. “For children, good oral health is the foundation for many important milestones: getting enough nutrition to grow a healthy body, having teeth to pronounce syllables correctly, keeping room for the developing jaws, and gaining confidence in a critical period.” of self-development.”

To maintain a healthy mouth, parents should make sure that kids choose healthy snacks, get enough fluoride and drink plenty of water, Sarvas said.

Water not only hydrates kids, but makes their teeth stronger and offers a healthier option than juice or soda, Sarvas said.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should drink no more than 4 ounces of juice a day, and the average juice box is 6 ounces,” Sarvas said, adding that good snack options include “fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, and cheeses.”

When it comes to brushing your teeth, parents shouldn’t underestimate how difficult brushing your teeth can be for kids who are still developing motor skills, Sarvas said.

“I used to say that kids need supervision until they can write their name in cursive, but now that kids don’t learn that anymore, I say until they can tie their shoes themselves, which shows good motor skills,” Sarvas said. “We’re all looking forward to the independence that comes with growing — it’s great for kids to start brushing on their own, but always have a parent come back to check for missed spots.”

Sarvas says the best toothbrush for any child is the one they will actually use, but added that softer bristles are better for oral health.

“Soft bristles adapt more easily to the many grooves in the teeth and prevent the gums from wearing away,” Sarvas said.

Not all kids like the feel of an electric toothbrush, so Sarvas would only recommend one if you’re sure your child will tolerate it.

“The most important thing is to brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day with toothpaste that contains fluoride. There are many different flavors on the market now, so find one that your child likes best,” Sarvas said.

Finally, parents should take their child on their inaugural trip to the dentist’s office after what Sarvas calls the child’s “dental age” — either their first tooth or their first birthday.

“This gives us plenty of time to guide the family, monitor growth and development, and provide general education,” Sarvas said. “You also want to set up a dental home for children, so if there are concerns later on, families know where to go outside of the emergency department, which can’t always help, and it can be very expensive.”

More information

The American Dental Association has more tips for children’s oral health.

SOURCE: Elise Sarvas, DDS, MSD, MPH, clinical associate professor of pediatric dentistry, University of Minnesota

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