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Dental Hygiene For Children

Many parents ask, "How can I teach my young children to properly brush and floss their teeth to avoid getting cavities?

 If you start training your children at a young age how to properly brush, you will be doing them a great favor.  Proper oral care sets the stage for long term benefits.  One good way to do this, is by "setting an example yourself". Show your children how you brush and floss your teeth, when you do this, and how long of a time you take brushing your teeth. Some parents try to "make a game" or challenge, should you have more than one child.  You can see who lasts the entire two minutes and make a little competition.  Also, let your children pick out their own toothbrush.  Every cartoon character or superhero comes in a toothbrush… so there there be something at your local pharmacy to please every time!

The following are a few simple tips to help get your children on track to a lifetime of good oral hygiene.

  1. You must establish how important it is to brush twice daily.  The toothpaste should be in accordance with the ADA; make sure it has an acceptable amount of fluoride in it.  (There are several brands of toothpaste for toddlers) Make sure you are using a toothpaste that is age specific for your child. The goal her is to remove the plaque that builds up daily.
  2. Next, teach them the benefits of flossing daily.  This will take care of the plaque that gets under their gums and between their teeth, as opposed to the plaque on the surface of their teeth. If you don't teach them to floss, this plaque becomes hardened and turns into  tartar. If your children have let their teeth go this far, the tartar can ONLY be removed by a dental hygienist.
  3. Try to encourage your children to eat a diet that is low in starch and sugar.  These types of food actually produce more plaque, which makes them at risk for more needed dental work.If you can't keep your children away from these types of food, at least try to incorporate them with a meal, as opposed to a snack.
  4. Use dental products that contain fluoride, including toothpaste.
  5. Make sure that your children's drinking water is fluoridated. If your water supply; municipal, well or bottled does not contain fluoride, your dentist or pediatrician may prescribe daily fluoride supplements.
  6. Take your child to the dentist for regular checkups. You can save 40% to 60% on check ups and cleanings at a general dentist as a Careington member!

At first, you will more than likely be with your children when they brush and floss until you are sure they are using the correct technique. Here are some guidelines issued by the American Dental Association.

Only use a dot, maybe the size of a pea of toothpaste.  Make sure it does have fluoride, but don't let your children swallow the paste. toothpaste.

Make sure you have the correct kind of toothbrush.  You will need to purchase brushes with soft bristles. Begin by brushing the INSIDE of the teeth first; that is where plaque starts.  Gently brush up and down, without scrubbing the gums to harshly.

To clean the outside of the teeth, take the brush and, at an angle, gently brush up and down on the outer part of the teeth.

Brush the chewing surface of each tooth. Gently brush back and forth.

Use the tip of the brush to clean behind each front tooth, both top and bottom.

It's always fun to brush the tongue!

A lot of parents are wondering at what age their children should begin flossing. Most dentists recommend that at the very youngest, 4 years old is a good time to start.  It takes a while for them to become proficient at this, but by the time your children are 7 years old, they should be flossing the correct way.  Also, if your younger children want to copy older siblings, by all means, let them do it, but watch them carefully so they don't accidentally hurt their tender gums.  You can also floss your children's teeth yourself if they are unable to do it.

Another way to defer cavities is to have a dentist apply a "sealant" to create a layer of protection against bacteria. The dental professional applies a thin layer of plastic to the surfaces of the teeth; the "chewing" part of the teeth. Typically, these are used on the posterior teeth, as this is the primary site for cavities to form.  It is a simple procedure, not too expensive and typically can be done in one or two visits to the dentist.

Most city water districts have fluoride in the water system to help everyone protect their teeth.  If you are not sure, contact your local water department.  Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally, and has proven to be one of the best ways to help in fighting off In many municipal water supplies, the right amount of fluoride is added for proper tooth development. If your city water does NOT contain fluoride, check with your dentist.  He or she may be able to prescribe another way of getting fluoride into your child's system.

Remember, every sugary snack your child consumes starts a reaction with plaque.  Every time we eat, "plaque acids" begin building up on your teeth.  It's very important to establish a snacking rule, or try to get your children to brush after every time they eat.  

Given that there are so many sugary foods available, and that you can never be certain what your child is eating while not under your supervision, by following the above guidelines, you should be able to prevent or slow down tooth decay in your children.

What Should I Do if My Child Chips, Breaks or Knocks Out a Tooth?

With any injury to your child's mouth, you should contact your dentist immediately. The dentist will want to examine the affected area and determine appropriate treatment.


Dental Health for children