How do I help my children care for their teeth and prevent cavities?
Teaching your child the proper oral hygiene methods is an investment in health that will provide benefits for a lifetime. The first is to set a good example; by caring for your own teeth the child will get the message that oral health is important. Everything that makes dental hygiene a fun task, like brushing your teeth with your children or allowing them to choose their own toothbrushes, promotes proper oral hygiene.
To help your children protect their teeth and gums and reduce the risk of tooth decay, teach them to follow these simple steps:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste approved by the US Dental Association, which will remove bacterial plaque (a sticky film that attaches to the teeth and is the leading cause of tooth decay).
- Floss daily to remove the plaque that deposits between the teeth and under the gum, preventing it from hardening and becoming tartar, once formed, can only be removed with professional cleaning.
- Use mouthwash before or after brushing your teeth
- Choose a balanced diet avoiding the consumption of starches and sugars. When you eat these foods, try to do it with food and not between meals. The extra saliva that occurs during a meal helps to rinse foods from the mouth.
- Use dental products containing fluoride, including toothpaste.
- Make sure your child consumes added fluoride salt if they live in areas that do not contain large amounts of fluoride naturally in drinking water.
- Take your children to the dentist for regular checkups.
What brushing techniques can I teach my children?
It is important to monitor the brushing of your children until they master these simple steps:
- Use a small amount of toothpaste (the size of a pea) with adequate amounts of fluoride, approved by the Dental Association. Make sure your children do not swallow toothpaste.
- With a soft toothbrush, first brush the inner surface of each tooth, which is where the plaque builds up most. Brush gently from posterior to anterior.
- Clean the outer surfaces of each tooth. Place the brush at an angle to the outer gum. Brush gently from posterior to anterior.
- Brush the chewing surface of each tooth. Brush gently from posterior to anterior.
- Use the tip of the brush to clean the back of the anterior teeth, both upper and lower.
- It’s always fun to brush your tongue
When should my child start flossing?
Since the dental floss removes food debris and plaque deposited between the teeth, which is a place where the brush does not reach; It is recommended that starting at age four, begin flossing with your children. By age eight, most children can start flossing by themselves.
What are fissure sealers and how do I know if my children need them?
Fissure sealants create a highly effective barrier against cavities, since they are thin plastic layers that are applied to the chewing surfaces of the child’s permanent posterior teeth, where most cavities form. Applying a sealant is not painful and can be done at a single visit to the dentist. He will tell you if a sealer is necessary for your children.
What is fluoride and how do I know if my children receive the proper amount?
Fluoride is one of the best ways to help prevent tooth decay. It is a mineral that, when combined with dental enamel, strengthens it. The preventive measure used in US is the consumption of salt added with the adequate amount of fluoride, and in areas where drinking water contains large amounts of fluoride, salt should be consumed without fluoride. Consult your dentist about the area where you live. In addition it is advisable to use a toothpaste with fluoride in all cases. Ask your dentist which toothpaste to use to get the proper level of fluoride. In children under 6 years it is advisable to use a toothpaste with 500 parts per million fluoride.
How important is diet to the oral health of my children?
A balanced diet is necessary for your children to develop strong teeth and resistant to cavities. In addition to the full range of vitamins and minerals, a child’s diet should include plenty of calcium, phosphorus and appropriate levels of fluoride.
Just as fluoride is the best protection for your children against cavities, foods between meals are often the worst enemy. The sugars and starches present in many foods like cookies, sweets, dried fruit, soda, crackers and fries combine with the plaque on your teeth to create acids. These acids attack the tooth enamel and can form cavities.
Each “plate attack” can last up to 20 minutes after the meal is over. Even a small bite can cause the plate to produce acids. Therefore, it is best to avoid ingestion of food between meals.
What should I do if my child splits a tooth, breaks it, or loses it?
If your child’s mouth is damaged, consult your dentist immediately. He will examine the affected area and determine the appropriate treatment.
If your child experiences pain from a broken or chipped feel, visit the dentist immediately. If you wish, you can be given a sedative until the time of the appointment. If possible, store the part of the tooth that has been broken and take it to the dentist.
If you lost a tooth by accident, take it to the dentist as soon as possible. Avoid touching the tooth and do not clean it. Store in water or milk until you reach the office. It is possible that the tooth can be put back into the child’s mouth by a procedure called replantation.