The old cliche still rings true: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We feel the importance of proper oral hygiene and preventative care for children cannot be overstated. We've included the information below as a guideline for parents. For more information, please contact us at (905) 592-1172.
- How Do I Prevent Cavities?
- What Toothpaste Should My Child Use?
- The Importance of Nutrition to Developing Teeth
- About Thumb Sucking and Pacifiers
- Flouride and Flourosis
Particles of left over food and naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth combine to create cavities. However, establishing good habits for children and following simple oral care guidelines can help avoid or minimize a majority of issues.
For infants: Wipe plaque from teeth and gums with a clean washcloth. To avoid infant tooth decay, do not put your infant to bed with a bottle containing anything other than water. Milk (even breast milk), formula and fruit juice all contain sugars that promote tooth decay.
For older children: Make sure your children are brushing their teeth at least twice a day. You should brush your children’s teeth for them until they are old enough to do it themselves. Flossing should begin as soon as any two teeth are touching. You should floss your children’s teeth daily until they are capable of doing it themselves. Parental supervision of brushing and flossing should continue until children are at least seven or eight years old. Minimize or eliminate snacks that contain sugar. Be alert for hidden sugars in processed foods that may not ‘seem sugary’, like potato chips and other common snacks.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children begin regular dental visits on or before their first birthday. Keep in mind that you are laying the foundation for a lifetime of good oral heath! Your pediatric dentist will be pleased to offer further sensible suggestions on the prevention of cavities.
The early establishment of strong brushing habits are essential to a lifetime of healthy teeth. But, children require toothpaste formulated specifically for children as adult toothpastes often contain abrasives that can damage developing teeth. When buying toothpaste for a child, make sure it has been recommended for children.
It’s important that children spit out toothpaste after brushing. Children who swallow toothpaste, run the risk of a condition called fluorosis (a discoloration of permanent teeth). If your children are too young to understand the need to spit, you should consider a fluoride free toothpaste.
Simply put: teeth need good nutrition to develop properly. A balanced diet is the key to healthy teeth and gums. Children should have one daily serving from each of the food groups, including fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals, milk and dairy products and meat, fish and eggs.
When it comes to snacks however, the deck often seems stacked against conscientious parents. It’s a fact that the majority of snacks marketed to children today lead to tooth decay. Even foods that don’t taste sweet often end up containing hidden sugar.
When providing snacks for your child, avoid processed foods, minimize sugars and focus on healthy alternatives like yogurt, fresh vegetables or cheese. Your pediatric dentist will be happy to offer more healthy suggestions.
Thumb sucking is natural and appears to provide infants and the very young feelings of security and relaxation. Generally thumb sucking and the use of pacifiers are only problematic if they go on for a long time. However, thumb sucking or the use of a pacifier after the eruption of permanent teeth can cause problems with tooth alignment and the proper growth of the mouth. Thumb sucking should be discouraged after children’s permanent front teeth erupt. Most children stop on their own between the ages of two and four. If you are attempting to change a thumb sucking habit, contact your pediatric dentist for advice.
Fluoride is an element that has been shown to inhibit the loss of minerals from tooth enamel and strengthen already weakened enamel. Fluoride also inhibits the bacteria that cause cavities. Combined with a healthy diet and good oral hygiene, fluoride is a safe and powerful ally in the fight against tooth decay.
Too much fluoride however, can be detrimental to developing teeth. Preschool children with too much fluoride in their diets can develop a condition called fluorosis. Fluorosis is usually mild, with tiny, barely noticeable, white specks or streaks on the teeth. But, in severe cases of fluorosis, the tooth enamel may develop brown discolorations. These scenarios are easily treated with cosmetic dentistry. Toothpaste ingestion is the biggest risk factor for developing fluorosis. Very young children are often not able to spit out toothpaste when brushing. Instead, they swallow the toothpaste and ingest excessive amounts of fluoride. Parents of very young children should consider toothpaste without fluoride or limit the toothpaste applied to the child’s brush to a ‘pea-size’ amount.
Fluoride supplements may also contribute to fluorosis. Fluoride supplements should only be given to children on the recommendation of a pediatrician or pediatric dentist.
For more information and guidelines on the amount of fluoride appropriate for your child, please contact your pediatric dentist.