Care for your child’s teeth
Infants can develop "Baby bottle tooth decay” which is caused by extended nursing on milk, formula or juices, especially at bedtime or nap time. Continuous amounts of sugar throughout the day, exposes your child's mouth to produce acid which, in turn, can break down enamel, causing cavities. You should not use a feeding bottle as a pacifier. If you must give your baby a bottle at bedtime or nap time, make sure it contains plain water. Also avoid snacking on sugary treats and carbohydrates, which break down into simple sugars the minute your toddler puts them in his mouth. It is recommended that you have your child's first dental visit by the age of two.
Stinky breath usually means your child is not producing enough saliva, which protects teeth from decay. Saliva helps swish away sugar and acid. Kids with dry mouth are much more likely to develop cavities. Dry mouth may be caused by dehydration or certain medications such as albuterol for asthma.
Dine for dental health. Make sweets an occasional treat and try to limit snacks. Serve foods such as cheese, yogurt, veggies, and peanut butter, these stimulate saliva production.
Don’t forget about water. Water increases saliva production and washes away sugars in your child's mouth. Fluoridated water helps prevent cavities by remineralizing teeth and decreasing acid. Fluoride is found in regular tap water as well as in toothpastes. If your household water does not contain fluoride water, you may purchase bottled nursery water, which contains fluoride. Also, make sure to use ADA approved fluoridated toothpaste.
Children's teeth begin forming before birth. As early as 4 months, the first primary, or baby teeth, erupt in the mouth. All 20 of the primary teeth usually appear by age 3, although their pace and order of eruption varies. Once your child's teeth begin erupting, you can begin cleaning them by wiping them with a moist washcloth. As your child gets more teeth, you should begin brushing their teeth with a soft toothbrush, twice daily at morning and before bed time. Use a small amount of ADA approved fluoridated toothpaste the size of a head of a safety match. When you’re done brushing your child’s teeth wipe off excess toothpaste.
At this age, your child should be able to brush his/her own teeth to develop good habits. It is essential to supervise and assist in brushing. Make sure they brush twice daily, in the morning and before bed time. Use a soft toothbrush with a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste the size of a pea. The proper way of brushing teeth for children is using soft circular motions on each tooth. Creating a sequence helps cover all teeth. Spending most time on the back chewing surfaces, where cavities usually develop first. Brushing the tongue is essential in removing bacteria and preventing bad breath.
At this age your child should be able to brush on their own, although supervision is essential. Make sure they brush twice daily, in the morning and before bed time. Use a soft toothbrush with a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste the size of a pea. The proper way of brushing teeth for children is using soft circular motions on each tooth. Creating a sequence helps cover all teeth. Spending most time on the back chewing surfaces, where cavities usually develop first. Brushing the tongue is essential in removing bacteria and preventing bad breath.
Adolescents: ages 13+
The best way for teens to enjoy a nice smile is to start at a young age using good oral habits. Brush twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste to remove plaque. Plaque is a thin biofilm layer made up of bacteria. Sometimes it makes our teeth feel like their fuzzy. When we are not brushing our teeth, the plaque tends to accumulate and harden which is known as tartar. Tartar cannot come off with a toothbrush, visiting your dentist or dental hygienist will help remove this harden tartar. Plaque can also be the leading cause of tooth decay and gum (periodontal) disease.
How to brush:
- Place Bristles at a 45-degree angle against gum line and tooth surface, using a soft back and forth motion (bacteria likes to accumulate along the gums).
- Use a sequential method, making sure you cover all teeth in each arch
- After you’ve finished brushing at a 45-degree angle, go back and use a sweeping motion on each tooth to remove bacteria that is present on the tooth surfaces. Sweep away gums toward biting surface.
- Use a back and forth scrub motion on all biting surfaces
- Tilt brush vertically behind upper and lower front teeth
- Remember to brush your tongue to remove bacteria and prevent bad breath.
- Brush for 3-5min
- Use a soft bristle tooth brush
- Replace your bush every 2 months or when bristles begin to wear.
- It’s a good idea to toss brushes after a cold or sore throat.
Flossing should be used as soon as your child’s teeth erupt.For children younger than 7 years of age a floss holder can be an essential way of flossing. Floss holders help the younger children as fine motor skills haven’t developed yet. To use a floss holder, let your child place the floss that is found at the tip of the holder between each tooth in their mouth. Use one floss holder for each time your child flosses. The floss is a single use but the actual holder is multi use. For Children older than 7, regular floss can be used unless dexterity is an issue.
- Use a 18 inch piece of floss
- Wrap it around your middle fingers
- Use your index fingers and thumb to pinch the floss
- Leave a 1-2inches between your fingers
- Use your index fingers as a guide to get in between the teeth
- Gently saw the floss between the teeth, DO NOT SNAP floss in between.
- Gently rub floss on each side of tooth up and down and underneath gum line.
- Create a “c” shape on each surface.
- Repeat on all teeth, don’t forget to floss the back of the last teeth
For a visual guide on brushing and flossing for children and adolescents,
view the Colgate® video HERE.
To download Windows Media Player, click HERE.
In order to maintain a healthy mouth, it is essential to have healthy eating habits. Sugary snacks such as cookies, lollipops, sugar coated cereals, gummy’s, and soda that children love to eat can cause tooth decay. How does sugar attack your teeth? We all have invisible bacteria in our mouth. When we don’t brush or floss, the bacteria likes sticking to the surfaces of the teeth and gums, this is known as plaque. Bacteria that is found in our mouth are attracted to sugar. When we snack in between meals on sugar, the bacteria likes to turn these sugars into acid. This acid on the teeth is powerful enough to create a hole (cavity) in the enamel. Soda pop contains many grams of sugar as well as being high in acid. There is nothing wrong with such foods, as long as you limit your sugar intake to 1 serving a day to prevent a cavity from forming. If your child likes snacking in between meals, offer a wide selection from the food group, like fruits and vegetables. These are less harmful to your teeth and the rest of your body, than foods loaded with sugars and low in nutritional value. After your child eats treats, make sure to brush or rinse mouth with water to remove access particles.