February is National Children’s Dental Health Month! Our team at Brookline Dental Specialists includes pediatric dentist Dr. Mary Ghattas and our entire clinical staff who are trained to help children, teenagers, and their parents have a comfortable, positive experience at the dentist! Did you know excellent oral home care begins at birth? Parents should care for their babies’ gums even before first teeth emerge and we recommend a first visit to the dentist by one year of age.
Proper Technique: Brush and Floss 101
Once that first tooth appears, there are many kinds of toothbrushes designed to meet children’s specific oral health needs and their different stages of development. Teach your children to have a good brushing routine at home. Use a small smear of toothpaste for children under 3 and a pea size amount for children 3-6 years old. You should brush the outer tooth surface of two to three teeth at a time along the gum line, using a gentle, circular motion. Move to the next group of two to three teeth and repeat. Be sure to brush the insides of the front teeth. Don’t forget to brush the all the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Flossers can help kids literally get a handle on cleaning between their teeth!
Once your child is comfortable with brushing, has formed good habits, and has developed the coordination to brush on their own teeth, be sure to continue to model and mentor by brushing with them! Try to make brushing a pleasant and fun part of the morning and bedtime routine.
Fluoride and Regular Hygiene Maintenance
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that a child go to the dentist by age 1 or within six months after the first tooth erupts. Primary teeth typically begin growing in around 6 months of age. Early checkups help prevent cavities and tooth decay, which can lead to pain, trouble concentrating, and other medical issues. We recommend a dental visit every six months to help prevent cavities and other dental health issues. Fluoride treatments and sealants are great preventative options we can offer in our practice. Sealants can prevent 80 percent of cavities in school-age children according to a new CDC report. Dental sealants are painted onto teeth by the dental hygienist and they create a protective coating that helps keep bacteria out of the nooks and crannies where tooth decay can form.
Help your children develop good eating habits and a liking for healthy snacks and foods. In fact, the fewer snacks kids eat, the better for their teeth! How frequently they snack is even more impactful than how much they eat. Snacking often, without brushing immediately afterwards, provides constant fuel to feed bacteria, which leads to tooth decay. One or two snacks a day, and brushing teeth immediately after, will reduce your child’s chance of cavities. Children should drink plain water instead of juice or soda. All juice, soda, and even milk contain sugar. Water does not harm the teeth and aids in rinsing food particles that may be sticking to teeth. Provide fresh fruits and vegetables to offer for snacking instead of sugary treats, or lots of carbohydrates. Choose fruits and vegetables that contain a high volume of water, such as pears, melons, celery and cucumbers.
We can help your children learn more about caring for their teeth when they come for their regular appointments with us. Providing a complete and convenient dental home for your entire family is what we do best, and our goal is to help every child we see have a lifetime of healthy smiles!