Prevention Topics and Questions
- Start Early. The younger you begin teaching your child the proper way to brush, the better.
- Choose the right brush. Children often benefit from picking a soft-bristled toothbrush that is specifically designed for a child’s tooth.
- Use the right amount of toothpaste. If they're under 5 years old, use a "pea-size" amount of toothpaste.
- Keep your child engaged in brushing. Use a timer, a short song, or counting as a game to encourage brushing for 2 minutes.
- Flossing is a great way to get pieces of debris that regular brushing can miss. We recommend flossing at least once a day.
- Flossing should take 2-3 minutes to complete.
- Flossing tools such as rethreaded flossers can be a great option to help children with limited dexterity.
Eating a variety of nutrient-filled foods from all the major food groups promotes healthy teeth and gums. Finding this balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and whole grains provides essential nutrients for optimum oral health. Not to mention your child’s overall health.
- Calcium-rich foods like low-fat milk cheese and yogurts, almonds and leafy veggies help promote stronger teeth and bones.
- Vitamin C can promote a healthy gum line. Foods Like broccoli, spinach, and citrus fruits are high in this much-needed vitamin.
- Phosphorus is essential for strong teeth. You can find phosphorus within lean meats, nuts and beans.
There are several key factors that, if addressed, can help steer your child away from cavities.
- This may seem straight forward, however getting your child on a schedule of brushing 2 times a day for 2 minutes is essential for fighting off the bacteria that lead to cavities.
- Regular dental visits. The AAPD recommends visits every six months to the dentist, beginning at your child’s first birthday. Routine visits will start your child on a lifetime of good dental health.
- Sealants can help your child’s back teeth by providing a protective shield around hard to reach areas. Talk to your dentist more about if sealants are right for your child.
A sealant is a protective coating that is applied to the chewing surfaces (grooves) of the back teeth (premolars and molars), where four out of five cavities in children are found. This sealant acts as a barrier to food, plaque and acid, thus protecting the decay-prone areas of the teeth.
Use toothpaste with fluoride that the child likes and that feels good in his or her mouth. An adult should always place toothpaste on the toothbrush.
- For children under age 3: Use a small smear of fluoride toothpaste (or an amount about the size of a grain of rice).
- For children ages 3–6:Use a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste.
- If a child cannot spit: Have the child tilt his or her mouth down so that the toothpaste can dribble out into the sink, a cup, or a washcloth. Since the fluoride in toothpaste is clearly meant to be swishes but not swallowed, make sure to help or watch the child while brushing. When she is old enough, tell her to spit out the toothpaste after brushing.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recognizes the benefits of xylitol on the oral health of infants, children, adolescents, and persons with special health care needs.
The use of XYLITOL GUM by mothers (2-3 times per day) starting 3 months after delivery and until the child was 2 years old, has proven to reduce cavities up to 70% by the time the child was 5 years old.
Studies using xylitol as either a sugar substitute or a small dietary addition have demonstrated a dramatic reduction in new tooth decay, along with some reversal of existing dental caries. Xylitol provides additional protection that enhances all existing prevention methods. This xylitol effect is long-lasting and possibly permanent. Low decay rates persist even years after the trials have been completed.
Xylitol is widely distributed throughout nature in small amounts. Some of the best sources are fruits, berries, mushrooms, lettuce, hardwoods, and corn cobs. One cup of raspberries contains less than one gram of xylitol.
Studies suggest xylitol intake that consistently produces positive results ranged from 4-20 grams per day, divided into 3-7 consumption periods. Higher results did not result in greater reduction and may lead to diminishing results. Similarly, consumption frequency of less than 3 times per day showed no effect.
To find gum or other products containing xylitol, try visiting your local health food store or search the Internet to find products containing 100% xylitol.
Dental Concerns: Bacteria in your mouth are the cause of many dental issues. Drinking sugary drinks throughout the day can provide this bacterium all the fuel it needs to grow and cause major problems down the road. As an alternative, we highly recommend children and teenagers should be drinking water, and lots of it.
If sports or energy drinks are consumed, we recommend:
- Reducing the frequency and contact time with the drink contacting your teeth.
- Swallow immediately and do not swish them around the mouth
- Neutralize the acidic effect of these drinks by alternating sips of water with the drink
- Rinse mouthguards only in water, not sports drinks
- Seek out dentally friendly sports drinks