Five Common Dental Health Mistakes:

Maggie Perkins, RD, LDN – Nutrition Health Educator

Two students posing with giant toothbrush and toothpaste.
Students enjoy fun props when learning about dental health care at the Poe Center.

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, which brings awareness to the benefits of good oral health for children and their caregivers 1. Creating healthy dental habits is important for overall health and quality of life. So in honor of this initiative, let’s explore five common mistakes people make when caring for their teeth, which can be detrimental to dental health.



Inconsistent dental appointments: It all starts with that one missed appointment, and before you know it, it’s been a year since you have visited the dentist. Life can be busy, but it is important to make dentist appointments a priority for your health. The dentist will help recommend the frequency of dental appointments, but for most children and adults, it is recommended to visit the dentist every six months. Personalized oral care by your dentist is vital for oral health 2.

Forgetting to floss: Teeth need a daily regimen of care, which includes more than brushing your teeth. Flossing once a day is necessary to remove bacteria that gets between the teeth where a tooth brush cannot reach. The Academy of General Dentistry declared flossing the single most important method to reduce plaque 3.

Poor brushing: It is recommended to brush your teeth two times a day for two minutes each time. Children and adults are often slack on the amount of time spent brushing.  Try this experiment.  Set a timer for two minutes next time you brush your teeth and see how it feels to brush for this amount of time.

Also, make sure you brush every morning and evening. If you eat a sweet treat, wait approximately 30 minutes and brush an extra time during the day to get the sugar bugs off your teeth4. You do not need to brush your teeth hard to be effective. Use a soft bristled tooth brush and be gentle as you brush your teeth and gums.

Not drinking enough water: Water is a great choice for oral health! Tap water has fluoride in it which prevents tooth decay. Be aware that most bottled water does not contain fluoride5. Also, avoid beverages that are high in sugar, such as juice, soda, and sports drinks.  The extra sugar can cause cavities.

Eating too few fruits and vegetables: On average, only 1 in 5 children ages 6-11 in North Carolina eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables 6. Fruits and vegetables are beneficial for dental health, because they are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which keep gums healthy and help prevent oral infections 7.   Also, crunchy fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, celery and apples help to scrape plaque off teeth.

The Poe Center offers a number of dental health programs which include engaging activities, tips, tricks, and fun facts about dental health for children, parents, and educators.  To book a program, call 866-402-4799 or schedule on line.

Students brushing and flossing Mr. Big Mouth at the Poe Center.
Students learn how to brush and floss properly using the Poe Center’s popular Mr. Big Mouth exhibit in the dental theatre.