Our best patient is an informed patient. “Healthy mouths for life” requires educating our children at an early age about proper dental hygiene. We encourage parents to bring their young children to our office for a consultation. Ask questions. Learn tips. Develop good habits. Your children, and their teeth, will thank you!
Does diet affect my child’s oral health?
Teeth are made primarily of minerals, and continuously cycle between de-mineralization and re-mineralization. Bacteria from foods and fluids left on the teeth after eating create acid, which de-mineralizes (weakens) the tooth enamel. With proper time between meals, the enamel is re-mineralized by saliva, reversing the damage caused by the acid.
If your child consumes significant amounts of juice and snacks, the abundance of bacteria doesn’t allow the teeth to re-mineralize, and decay develops. Known as dental caries, it is an infectious disease that, left untreated, can lead to infection, tooth loss, significant pain, and serious systemic infection. Proper at home care, fluoride, and downtime between food and drink consumption will allow for an effective re-mineralization process, resulting in strong, healthy, caries-free teeth.
What’s the right age for my child’s first dental visit?
It’s recommended that your child first sees a dentist six months after the first tooth comes in, or at the latest by their first birthday. Teeth should be cleaned as soon as they erupt to avoid dental carries (tooth decay), the number one bacterial infection in children. The first consultation with your dentist is an important milestone in your child’s oral health, during which you’ll gain answers to many questions regarding your child’s future care.
How often should my child visit the dentist?
Studies indicate that it takes an average of 6 months for plaque and tartar to form on the teeth and for tooth decay to be evident by an x-ray. A typical dental exam includes checking of teeth for cavities and proper dental development, teeth cleaning, application of fluoride, and patient education regarding diet, oral hygiene, and proper home care.
The importance of primary teeth
Primary teeth are just as important as permanent teeth, and require professional care and consistent daily hygiene. These “baby teeth” maintain space on the dental arch, and provide a proper path for the eruption of permanent teeth. They influence normal development of the face, and are critical as your child learns to eat and speak. During each hygiene visit, your dentist will evaluate your child’s arch development, dental alignment, and teeth eruption.
Brushing and flossing
Parents should brush their child’s teeth until they can brush them on their own, typically by age 8. The best times to brush are after breakfast and before bedtime. Use a toothbrush with soft, round-ended bristles after breakfast and at bedtime. Using an ADA accepted toothpaste, apply a small, pea-sized amount, and be sure your child spits out the excess amount vs. ingesting it. After brushing, parents should floss children’s teeth to remove plaque between teeth where toothbrushes cannot reach.
Benefits of fluoride
Fluoride helps create stronger tooth enamel, so it’s important that your child doesn’t get too much or too little. Other than toothpaste, the most prevalent source of fluoride is in drinking water. We encourage parents to discuss their child’s fluoride sources to make sure they are getting the proper amount.
Use of sealants
Sealants are an effective preventive measure for reducing caries in permanent teeth. Easily applied to decay-prone areas of the back teeth, sealants protect the chewing surfaces from tooth decay by keeping germs and food particles out of these grooves. They are best applied just after the back molars erupt (before they have a chance to decay), usually age 6 for first molars, and age 12 for second molars.
A healthy diet
A healthy diet is not only good for your child’s body, but good for his mouth as well. Avoid foods that create an acid environment, or stick to the teeth, including soda and sugary drinks that cause decay, and candy, and pretzels/chips that stick to the biting surfaces. Rather, build strong teeth and bones with foods rich in Vitamin D and calcium. Allow “downtime” between meals so the teeth can re-mineralize and recover.