Your Child's Teeth Are Important!

Your child's teeth are important.  So, besides going to the dentist regularly, what can you do to make sure your child has healthy teeth?

Start young! Make sure you are not putting your child to bed with a bottle that contains anything other than water. The sugars in milk and juices will pool against your child’s teeth while he or she sleeps, creating a favorable environment for tooth decay. Baby bottle tooth decay often affects your child’s front teeth.

Also, get your child used to cleaning the mouth after feeding. This can start as simply as wiping your child’s gums with gauze or a washcloth when he or she is very young.

Brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day once he or she gets teeth. (The first ones come in at about 6 months of age.) Even as your child gets older, you will need to check his or her brushing because many children lack coordination to properly clean their teeth until they are around age 9 or 10. Use a soft bristled toothbrush. Floss your chlld’s teeth once a day, starting when their first permanent molars come in at about 6 years of age. Brushing and flossing remove plaque that contains cavity causing bacteria. Flossing is especially good for preventing cavities from forming between your child’s teeth.

Remember that cavities form when bacteria are activated by sugars and starches in your child’s diet. The activated bacteria put out an acid that eats away at your child’s teeth.  Fluoride replaces tooth minerals lost during these acid attacks. This is why most toothpastes contain fluoride. Fluorides are also available as mouthrinses or as gels that you can brush on the teeth after regular brushing. There are even high fluoride toothpastes available by prescription that can be used instead of regular toothpaste.

While fluoride often can help delay cavity formation, it will not remove a cavity that has already developed. Once a cavity is visible to you or your dentist, it needs a filling. Teeth are most likely to take up fluoride right after a cleaning, and this is why your dentist recommends an in-office fluoride treatment as part of your child’s dental check-up.   

Back teeth have many grooves and pits on the chewing surface. A sealant is a liquid material that flows into these grooves. It is then hardened with a bright light and makes the surface of the tooth smooth and, like an ice rink, the food and bacteria slide off the surface rather than getting stuck down in the grooves where they can cause cavities.

Sealants can be placed on the chewing surface of any back tooth but are most often done on your child’s permanent molars. The first set of permanent molars comes in around age 6 years and the second set at age 12 years. For the best results, seal teeth as soon as possible after they come into your child’s mouth.

By starting at a young age, you ensure your child has the best chance to grow up with a healthy “look, ma, no cavities!” smile. If you do not have a dentist for your child, please call my office at 440-960-1940.